New care facility for Thetford?

Norfolk County Council has submitted a change of use planning application for this building in Elm Road, Thetford
Norfolk County Council has submitted a change of use planning application for this building in Elm Road, Thetford
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A vacant council-owned building could soon be brought back into use as a site for respite care.

Norfolk County Council’s children’s services department is seeking permission to turn its former infants school and day care centre in Elm Road, Thetford, into a day resource hub and respite care facility.

The building, which has stood empty since 2012 and was named recently as one of Breckland’s most ‘in need of attention’ sites, is currently subject to a change of use planning application.

If successful, the council plans to create three en-suite respite care rooms, and a small one-bedroom flat to enable young people with complex needs to experience supported living.

Cllr Terry Jermy, who represents the area on the town, district and county councils, is in favour of the plans.

He said: “The proposed use is something that I very much support. I have been lobbying Norfolk County Council to do something with the site ever since it was closed as the social services base some years ago. The site was left to become derelict with residents regularly raising concerns.

“The proposed use is very much needed and will actually save the council money in the long run by reducing the need for long trips by service users to alternative facilities. This is obviously better for their own wellbeing as well which is to be welcomed.

“I know the site well, when I was a toddler it was my play-group and I used to live on Elm Road itself. I look forward to seeing it transformed once more into something for the community.”

If the scheme gets the go ahead, the council is expecting to employ 21 staff, 15 on a full-time basis and six part-time.

It does not, however, plan to alter the site’s existing car park, which it considers sufficient for the proposed use.

Its planning statement says: “The site already has extensive car parking available. It is considered that this is sufficient to continue to cater for the day resource hub requirement. Any additional staff required linked to overnight residents will use car parking spaces that would otherwise be empty overnight (as these spaces would only be used linked to day case use activities).”

A decision on the application is expected to be made by August 23.

To read the application in full click here.