Could charity’s expansion finally provide town’s new community centre?

Hour Community's chief executive Nick Corke, pictured riding a trishaw, is meeting stakeholders abou

Hour Community's chief executive Nick Corke, pictured riding a trishaw, is meeting stakeholders about proposals for a new community hub Picture: GREGG BROWN

A charity’s ambition to expand its operations in response to increasing demand is hoped to provide the solution to a Suffolk town’s long-running ambitions for a new community centre.

Nick Corke, chief executive of Hour Community in Framlingham has been talking to stakeholders about a new “community hub” which could incorporate a range of services as well as venue space for events and activities.

The suggestion follows a series of failed attempts to create a new community centre in the town, the most recent of which – a £1.5m facility in Brook Lane – was rejected amid concerns from neighbours.

Mr Corke has suggested a grander scheme on the edge of Framlingham, catering for all the town’s needs at one site.

“We’ve now had six or seven different attempts to get the community centre off the ground and, sadly, they’ve all failed for one reason or another,” he added. “Perhaps now we’ve got to look at a bigger scheme. It seems some of the proposals have been on the same sort of scale as a large village hall. But what Framlingham needs is something more like a community hub that could pull together a whole range of different facilities.”

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Mr Corke said he had been talking to a landowner about a possible site near to Thomas Mills High School in Saxtead Road. The new facility could be run by Hour Community on a not-for-profit basis, and include facilities such as a new health centre, gym and space for community groups.

Mr Corke also believes the site could answer another of Framlingham’s long-running quandaries – car parking.

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The town’s latest parking scheme, which included a proposals to expand The Elms car park into the historic Mere overlooked by Framlingham Castle, have proved unpopular with many residents.

Mr Corke said he felt the expansion of The Elms was “controversial” and an alternative solution may be to provide an out of town park and ride scheme alongside the community hub for the town’s workers and visitors.

He said the plans were at a very early stage and acknowledged that building on the edge of town could prove unpopular, particularly as it would require some housing to enable the project to proceed. “But I think we do need to think bigger,” he added.

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