GREEN BRITAIN CENTRE – PRESS RELEASE – Swaffham Town Council and Breckland Council
At an extraordinary meeting of the Council held on Monday 14th December 2020, Swaffham Town Council agreed by a majority vote of 8 to 4 in favour of proceeding to the next stage of a proposed Asset swap of acquiring the Green Britain Centre from Breckland Council in exchange for a 5-acre site owned by the Town Council of Days Field, with the GBC building and the 5-acres of surrounding land.
A proposal was put forward by Cllr Paul Darby, seconded by Cllr Colin Houghton
“To agree in principle to the Asset Swap, to then proceed with the legal due diligence, additional feasibility study and public consultation, to negotiate with Breckland Council to become the sport and leisure provider for Swaffham, to make urgent enquiries with sport and leisure providers.”
What this means, is that the Town Council are now committed to finding out all the information they need to finalise an Asset Swap deal with Breckland Council and be in a position to have an important conversation with townsfolk at a public consultation in the new year, a date will be fixed when timescales are finalised by the Town Council and Breckland Council.
There is still a lot of work to do, but most of this can now be done concurrently, with sport and leisure at the very heart of these discussions. Results of commissioned work by Breckland Council on sports and leisure, will be shared with the Town Council shortly. There still remains genuine concerns over viability, rectification costs, non-domestic rates and how to provide assurances of financial stability.
The Town Council’s preferred management model would be to own the building, but to have a sole (or anchor) tenant. At the same time to have influence in what sport and leisure is provided in Swaffham and these important conversations will be held in the coming months with the interested parties. These discussions need to be concluded, to provide certainty, where uncertainty and concern currently exists.
Swaffham Town Mayor Jill Skinner stated:
“I am pleased with the support of my fellow Councillors to take this project to the next stage. Our frustrations in recent months have all been about lack of clarity, and this is just the end of the beginning. We now need to prepare ourselves, so we can share more information with the public at the earliest opportunity. I believe that this decision to move forward can be a springboard to better things for the Town as a whole. We as Town Councillors need to work together, and with Breckland Council and with others, so that our townsfolk can be confident that the GBC can be more than a ‘white elephant’ or a financial ‘millstone’, that none of us want and we must learn from past mistakes made at this site. This is an exciting opportunity; the aim now is to do all we can to turn that opportunity into a viable project and present a final deal to our residents that they can all sign up to.”
Cllr Paul Hewett, Breckland Council’s Executive Member for Contracts and Assets, commented:
“I’m delighted that the town council has voted to take this further forward. We have been working closely together on this for some time as it would mean the Green Britain Centre would come back into public use, while underused land in the town can potentially be taken forward for much-needed development. It is important now that we keep up the pace and ensure the plans reach fruition in a timely manner and ensure any solution meets the needs of both Swaffham and the wider Breckland taxpayer, as we continue to receive a number of expressions of interest about this important building.”
Swaffham Town Council Office Contact
Following government advice Swaffham Town Council Town Hall office will be closed to the public for face to face enquiries. Office staff are working from home and available by email, email@example.com, and telephone 01760 722922. Please leave a message on the answerphone and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
We need to look after the well-being of our Council staff and our Councillors, so we have contingency plans for all eventualities, particularly for self-isolation, in terms of business continuity, for meetings and essential services. It is likely that there could be disruption, closures, postponements or cancellations. We will keep the public informed via the Council’s website and social media through our Facebook and Twitter feeds and through the local press.
We have set up a dedicated Coronavirus - COVID19 information site on the website and will adding helpful information as it becomes available.