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Resurrect Carnegie Room scheme - call

PUBLISHED: 08:30 01 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:39 02 June 2010

Fresh calls have been made for civic leaders to resurrect a scheme to redevelop an eyesore community building in Thetford.

Plans to launch a competition among architects to draw up designs for a replacement Carnegie Room were put on the back burner by town councillors last year.

Fresh calls have been made for civic leaders to resurrect a scheme to redevelop an eyesore community building in Thetford.

Plans to launch a competition among architects to draw up designs for a replacement Carnegie Room were put on the back burner by town councillors last year.

But a former Thetford Town councillor has called on members to bring the proposals back to the table to create a “landmark” community hall for the growing town.

Ray Key, who lost his Saxon ward seat last year, said he “never understood” why the town council did not sign a contract with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to draw up plans for a new Carnegie Room in Cage Lane.

He told members at a town council meeting on Wednesday night: “If we had signed, we would right now be looking at the results of that (RIBA) competition and considering designs for the new Carnegie and that really hurts.”

Mr Key added that the town needed a modern multi-purpose hall with plans to build 6,000 new homes and create 5,000 jobs in Thetford by 2021 as part of its growth point initiative.

But Ed Chambers, town clerk, said there was no commitment at the moment to run the RIBA competition and the provision of community facilities was being looked at as part of the Thetford Area Action Plan consultation. However, mayor John Harding said members would discuss the issue at their next meeting.

An architect firm was commissioned by the town council two years ago to look at the possibility of refurbishing the Guildhall and redeveloping the neighbouring Carnegie site. However, the five suggested options by Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects never got off the ground.

Deputy mayor Robert Kybird said the current 1960s Carnegie Room was a better facility compared to other towns in Norfolk.

“We did a demand and needs study, which was very inconclusive. At the moment it runs at a substantial loss and we are trying to get the usage up to see if we need something bigger and better,” he said.

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