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Thetford regeneration 'must be in public interest' - letter

PUBLISHED: 10:25 29 July 2010 | UPDATED: 14:43 02 August 2010

THETFORD officials will have to prove a regeneration scheme is in the public interest in order to obtain funding, a government letter has declared.

THETFORD officials will have to prove a regeneration scheme is in the public interest in order to obtain funding, a government letter has declared.

Moving Thetford Forward is a project designed to improve the quality of life for those in and around the area by delivering the town's growth point scheme to improve housing, provide new jobs and regenerate the town centre.

Previously, the board had applied for government funding worth more than £1.7m but no guarantee had been received. Now, in a letter from the Department of Communities and Local Government, it has been told that although the money is available it must demonstrate community involvement.

Although it is yet unclear how this will be done, Moving Thetford Forward members are confident the project has demonstrated its involvement within the community and will provide benefits for future use.

Growth point manager for Breckland Council, Keith Ward, said: “We've been told we can have the money but they're now saying we've got to make absolutely sure it's involving the community.

“I think at the moment the case we're looking to put forward is the same, and the regeneration of the town centre probably does meet the requirements but it's how we evidence that.

“Until we know precisely what they want it's difficult. It seems to me the scheme meets the criteria anyway. We're looking at spending money around the town centre and it's something the public want to see. We're looking at doing cycle links which the public have said they want, and we're looking at securing community facilities in the forum which again the public have said they want. I'm quietly optimistic.”

The Moving Thetford Forward board has already held various public consultations on areas of the scheme. These include a new bus interchange on Minstergate, an academy to replace the two existing high schools spread over three sites, including the forum, regeneration of town centre shopping, and an increase of housing and new jobs.

In short the town could be completely transformed if the funding is given the go-ahead.

Norfolk County Council cabinet member for Sustainable Development and a member of the Moving Thetford Forward board, Ann Steward, said: “This is positive news for Thetford and for other growth points in Norfolk such as Kings Lynn and the greater Norwich area as it means the threat of the sudden withdrawal of funding for a number of planned improvements during the current financial year has been withdrawn.

“In the case of Thetford, it means the county council and its partners will be able to start work on a number of important projects worth £1.7m such as refurbishing the Haling path and enhancements to Thetford town centre, which will make a real difference to local people.

“The government understandably has an expectation that precious funds are being put to good use and I have confidence we will be able to demonstrate that this is certainly the case in Norfolk.”

Leader of Breckland Council and chairman of the Moving Thetford Forward board, William Nunn, said: “The partnership's approach has always been about securing real local and community engagement and ensuring that our residents will gain from the funding and I am confident that we will be able to demonstrate that this is certainly the case in Thetford.

“The fact that the funding has not been withdrawn is positive news for Thetford and means that we will be able to start work on a number of important projects worth £1.7m such as refurbishing the Haling path and enhancements to Thetford town centre, which will make a real difference to local people.”


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