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Worlingham community hall project gets six figure cash boost - but fears raised for other schemes needing investment

PUBLISHED: 12:29 05 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:40 05 September 2019

The site where the new Worlingham community facility is to be built. Picture: JAMES BASS

The site where the new Worlingham community facility is to be built. Picture: JAMES BASS

A bid to build a community hall in Worlingham has been given a £149,000 boost by council chiefs.

Cllr David Ritchie described it as an Cllr David Ritchie described it as an "excellent" project. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The much-needed community hub is being developed on the former primary school site in Rectory Lane, which has been vacant since 2013.

The project received £70,000 from Waveney District Council last year in Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding - cash provided by housing developers towards roads, schools, libraries and other key services.

However, the project is now at a stage where work can only progress with additional CIL funding.

On Tuesday night, East Suffolk Council's cabinet agreed to allocate an additional £149,478 in CIL cash for the work to continue.

Beccles Lido has been told that no CIL money is available for the last stage of its revamp. Picture: NEIL DIDSBURYBeccles Lido has been told that no CIL money is available for the last stage of its revamp. Picture: NEIL DIDSBURY

Conservative councillor David Ritchie, cabinet member for planning and coastal management, said: "It's an excellent project and is essential infrastructure to support development."

The cabinet report said: "This community led development is an important part of the local community infrastructure provision and a recognised shortfall in provision for this large village.

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"The council is committed to supporting its delivery and enabling this to happen without delay."

Graham Elliott from the Greens said it opened the council up to inconsistencies. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK GREENSGraham Elliott from the Greens said it opened the council up to inconsistencies. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK GREENS

Unusually, the development also includes 15 homes, with a portion of the profits from those homes being spent on developing the hall.

Worlingham is believed to be the largest village in Suffolk without a community centre, pub or meeting room following the closure of the church hall in 2008.

However, the council planned to allocate CIL money on an annual basis, which Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group leader Graham Elliott said was inconsistent when the Beccles Lido revamp project had been told there was no CIL funding currently available.

"I fully support this community facility," he said.

"Worlingham has very few facilities and this project has been a long time in the making.

"But I do have some concern about the method of CIL allocation.

"Beccles Lido was told no CIL money was available - we are exposing ourselves to inconsistencies.

"We have got to justify this as an exceptional project and we have got to show the lido team, who have worked exceptionally hard, our support for them. They haven't had a single penny of grant funding from Waveney or Suffolk Coastal."

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