Plans for new £2.5m centre

Forest Heath area saying that St John's Community Centre could be condemned imminently. If it closes a lot of different groups will be kicked out.
Forest Heath area saying that St John's Community Centre could be condemned imminently. If it closes a lot of different groups will be kicked out.
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AFTER almost six years of waiting, the £2.5 million revamp of St John’s Community Centre could be about to get the green light.

On Tuesday, Forest Heath District Council members are set to decide whether or not to hand over the site to Orbit Housing and Keystone Development Trust (KDT).

Once the site is in their hands, Orbit plans to build a new, smaller community centre and 20 new homes, 18 of which will be for affordable housing.

KDT will then manage the community centre, with no ongoing cost to the council.

Tony Wheble, Forest Heath councillor for Great Heath, said the plans were a good deal for the council and residents.

“It’s not costing us a penny and we’re getting a brand new facility.

“The community centre is in a deprived area of Mildenhall and it would have cost an awful lot of money to repair it,” he said.

Neil Stott, chief executive of KDT, said the community centre would take about a year to be in place once planning permission was approved.

He said the new centre would be more efficient to run and better suited to groups’ needs.

“The new centre will be much more sustainable and give us the opportunity to cater for the local community – especially young people,” he said.

Orbit is funding the scheme through a £540,000 grant from the Homes and Communities Agency with another £1,625,000 being raised through commercial loans.

In September, Forest Heath agreed to put £445,000 of its own money into the project.

The site’s current value is estimated at around £120,000, but Forest Heath is willing to hand it over for free to enable the progress of the improvement scheme.

The new homes will be built on public land behind the community centre.

Orbit confirmed that it is waiting for approval for the handover before a planning application is entered.