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Former school and acres of farmland set to be sold as Norfolk County Council grapples with £95m budget gap

PUBLISHED: 14:32 26 August 2018 | UPDATED: 08:46 28 August 2018

The Elm Road Centre in Thetford. Pic: Archant.

The Elm Road Centre in Thetford. Pic: Archant.

Archant

A former school and acres of farmland look set to be sold off by council bosses as they grapple with ways to close a budget gap of almost £100m.

Terry Jermy, Labour county councillor for Thetford West. Pic: Labour Party.Terry Jermy, Labour county councillor for Thetford West. Pic: Labour Party.

Norfolk County Council is forecasting a budget gap of £94.6m, on top of the £78.5m savings it needs to make, between now and the end of the finanical year in 2022.

The council’s committees will be asked to look for ways to make further savings at meetings in October, but one way the authority has been generating cash is by selling off some of its properties.

At a meeting of the council’s business and property committee next month, councillors will be asked to agree to dispose of another batch of land and properties.

It includes the sale of the former Elm Road Centre in Thetford, which used to be a school. The property has been empty since 2013.

The building was a former infant school which dates back to the 1960s. It was extended in 1973 as part of the school’s expansion and a detached building was constructed in 1975. It later became the Elm Road Centre, used by children’s services.

In 2016, the council considered turning it into a hub for adult social care - a centre which would provide day services and respite care.

The council was ready to spend £800,000 on revamping the centre, with the idea that it would save £250,000 a year in transport costs, because service users in the Thetford area would no longer have to go to Norwich for services.

But, in the report which will go before councillors, County Hall officers say no firm proposals have come forward and the site described as incurring “a significant cost per year in security costs alone’ should be sold at public auction.

But Terry Jermy, Labour county councillor for Thetford Wes, said: “News that the former Elm Road social services centre is likely to be sold will be deeply disappointing news for the local community.

“The proposals to create a respite centre for people with disabilities were warmly welcomed in Thetford and the proposed sale creates a great deal of uncertainty for residents.

“We’ve already seen numerous council-owned buildings sold in Thetford and significantly reduced services.”

The committee meets on Tuesday, September 4.

What else could be sold off?

Attleborough: Land near Hargham Road. Part of the county farms estate, the 16.6 acres would be sold off, for homes to be built there.

Brockdish: Two patches of land of 4 acres and 4.4 acres would be sold at public auction. Bought for a highway scheme, but not used.

Costessey: Land at Kestrel Avenue. Bought for education purposes, but now declared as surplus. Has been offered to Costessey Town Council at full market value, but if there is no agreement, would be sold at auction.

Long Stratton: An auction is planned for a small area of land near Shrub Cottage,in Ipswich Road, bought for a highway scheme, but not used.

Mileham: A 2.5 acre farm off Litcham Road would be sold at auction

Needham: Public auction for land at Gravel Pits acquired for a highway scheme, but not used.

Reepham: Auction for three strips of land at Old Lane not needed for a highway scheme.

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