Tharston and Hapton Parish Council chairman Fiona Lambert has told the Diss Express of her delight after a grant of £40,000 was awarded in their bid to build a new recreational hall.
The former hall, which stood for more than a century, was demolished earlier in the year. It had been deemed too unsafe to insure, being compromised by tree roots. The wall nearest St Mary’s Church had a huge crack and needed underpinning, and the chimney could have fallen at any moment.
It looked as though the parish council’s bid for an £82,850 grant, which had been shortlisted, would not be awarded after South Norfolk Council officers recommended against issuing the funds. But after amending the bid to include an artificial cricket pitch, the council was awarded a grant of £40,000.
Parish council chairman Fiona Lambert told the Diss Express: “We are delighted. It has been really hard work to get there. Myself and Jane Valentine (deputy chair) have put in a lot of time into this but it has paid off in the end.”
Mrs Lambert said that response to the amended bid had been positive from villagers.
“The people I have spoken to have welcomed it,” she said. “There is no all-weather cricket pitch in south Norfolk as far as I can tell. It has been a learning curve for us. I think if we had not been quite as tenacious as we were, we might have missed out.”
Mrs Lambert said the council was now “looking at the options” to get the most from the money. She said she intends to meet with an architect and professional team on Monday, before going out to tender with local companies next month.
So far, the council has £110,000 for their target, initially set at around £250,000. A housing development at Chequers Lane could bring in almost £90,000 through section 106 money.
Capital grants are funded through the New Homes Bonus which is used by South Norfolk Council to ensure that local communities see the benefit of growth throughout the district. Martin Wilby, Deputy Leader of the council said: “The health and wellbeing of our residents is a priority for South Norfolk Council and that is why we have used these grants to support sports related projects. With the help of these grants we have looked to help enhance sporting facilities in those areas.”
A grant application of £60,000 for improvements to Harleston Memorial Leisure Centre were also given the green light by South Norfolk Council’s cabinet. The capital grant, applied for by Redenhall with Harleston Town Council, will contribute towards a £450,000 bid to improve the facility, which includes plans to build a brand new mezzanine floor, creating space for classes and groups.