Community centre for Suffolk town

PEOPLE hope to bring together important community facilities in one large centre in a Suffolk town.A steering group has been looking at ambitious plans to create a centre which would be at the heart of the Leiston community, and contain a range of health and community facilities.

PEOPLE hope to bring together important community facilities in one large centre in a Suffolk town.

A steering group has been looking at ambitious plans to create a centre which would be at the heart of the Leiston community, and contain a range of health and community facilities.

Town councillors, who meet tonight , will be asked to agree to pay £2,000 towards a feasibility study and the drawing up of outline plans, expected to cost a total of around £11,000, for the proposed Healthy Living Community Centre.

A site has already been earmarked for the proposed centre, at a Suffolk Coastal District Council car park opposite Leiston film theatre.


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However, although the community centre idea was first mooted a couple of years ago, the proposals are still at a very early stage and unlikely to come to fruition for a few years.

Among the services it is proposed it would house are a doctors' surgery, NHS dentistry, community car service volunteers, the coastal accessible transport service, the volunteer bureau, town library, meeting rooms, community facilities and public toilets.

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The idea is to create a modern centre with easy access for all, and the plans are supported by the town council.

Suffolk county councillor Joan Girling, who is on the steering group which is taking the plans forward, said there was a long way to go – but said having facilities in such a central position "gives the middle of the town a buzz".

"I think what everybody has recognised is that it's not going to happen next week," she said. "I think it's a question of taking it step by step."

"I think what Leiston has looked at is an innovative approach – health, social care, even some social activities," she said.

"I think it's a longer term plan for the town and its future. The town might not grow a considerable amount – it might grow a bit – but is what we have suitable?"

Mrs Girling pointed out that when they carried out a recent town appraisal, the need for a new community centre came top of the list.

"The doctors' surgery has never been in the right place from day one," she explained. "Social services can never find a place to meet in. The library needs to be bigger."

She added: "Whilst Leiston has got loads of clubs and pubs, there is not one specific place that is a meeting room except for the day centre."

The doctors' surgery supported the proposals, and there was support within the town, she said, but it would take some time to get off the ground.

"At the earliest date I think you are talking about two and a half to three years. It's not easy to get a funding package together."

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