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Lakenheath: Big step forward for community centre bid

PUBLISHED: 08:25 06 June 2014 | UPDATED: 14:17 06 June 2014

Archant

A village dream to build a state-of-the-art community centre looks set to become reality after campaigners won a bidding war to purchase part of the site.

The ambitious plans behind the People’s Project in Lakenheath have taken a crucial step forward after villagers’ officially bought the village’s old Royal British Legion hall.

The hall is now in the hands of the trustees of the Peace Memorial Hall next door, and the long-term aim is to merge the two halls into a centre of excellence for all the village to enjoy.

The project appeared in jeopardy as campaigners struggled to raise the £120,000 needed to buy the hall, but were handed a reprieve when the Christian Fellowship Foundation poured money from the sale of the Lakenheath Village Home back into the project.

While the hall has now been purchased, villagers must now prepare to raise the money to fund the building work, which project leader Brendan Fulham said could cost up to £500,000.

“Now the hard work of fundraising to finance the project begins,” said Mr Fulham.

“We are under no illusion it is a monumental task we have before us, but if we have the same resolve as has existed during the bidding stage we should win through and produce a village centre of excellence for Lakenheath folk.

“We will pursue every available avenue to seek grant aid funding and, because we have shown such commitment to buying the site, I am sure it will stand us in good stead with the agencies we will apply to.”

The Royal British Legion hall in the High Street had stood empty since shutting in August 2012, and looked set to be sold to the highest bidder.

However, a campaign spearheaded by resident Mr Fulham saw an embargo placed on the club’s sale by Suffolk County Council under community right to bid legislation, which gives community groups six months to raise funds to buy assets of community value.

While the fundraising effort secured tens of thousands of pounds, the project looked set to fall short before the April deadline.

However, Forest Heath first stepped in to provide a safety net of up to £75,000 should the campaigners fail to raise the money, although the funding was secured with the intervention of the Christian Fellowship Foundation.

For more information about the project or to get involved email Mr Fulham at chairlpmh@hotmail.com

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