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Major redevelopment could see Needham Market’s library and internet cafe move to middle school

06:00 04 November 2015

The former Needham Market Middle School.

The former Needham Market Middle School.

Archant

An ambitious vision to relocate a town’s library and create a museum as part of a major redevelopment of a redundant middle school site have been announced.

Discussions are underway between three groups in Needham Market – the library, internet cafe and museum group – to create a “community hub” at the town’s old middle school.

The school shut in the summer as part of a major overhaul of education in Suffolk.

Now education bosses at Suffolk County Council have passed the site to its property department as future uses for the land are considered.

Kevin Hunter, clerk of Needham Market Town Council, said the groups could ask for the hub to be created alongside new homes at the site if a developer came forward.

When a developer bids to build homes they are usually required by the planning authority to provide money for community facilities.

Mr Hunter said: “The county council has provided funding for an officer to work up a feasibility and business case for the creation of a community hub.

“The aspiration is if the county council sold the land for development that there would be a commitment on behalf of the developer to build this community hub.”

There have been concerns about the long-term future of the library and the internet cafe, which are both in different ageing buildings in School Street next to the middle school, for months. The future of the internet cafe has previously been described as “perilous”.

A spokesman for Suffolk Libraries said: “There are no firm plans for the relocation of Needham Market Library but discussions are ongoing about this project.”

Tom Barker formed Needham Market Internet Cafe, which provides free computer access and high-speed internet, 11 years ago.

He said: “Ultimately, we’re really excited about the possibility, which seems to have potential to provide security for two important community facilities in the town.

“Nothing is finalised yet though and we are still working through the options to see how we can make it all work, both practically and financially”.

A spokesman for the county council said officers were aware of the community vision proposal.

He said: “The now vacant middle school site will be marketed and bids will be invited.

“No decision has been made about the future of the site and that the community proposal will be considered alongside any other bids which might come forward.”

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