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Swap deal could breathe new life into vacant visitor attraction

PUBLISHED: 06:00 15 November 2019

A deal could bring the Green Britain Centre in Swaffham back into use. Picture: Ian Burt

A deal could bring the Green Britain Centre in Swaffham back into use. Picture: Ian Burt

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A former visitor attraction could be brought back into use if a proposed swap deal between two councils is agreed.

Dale Vince, owner of green energy firm Ecotricity, said the Green Britain Centre in Swaffham was not profitable following its closure in 2018. Picture: Ian BurtDale Vince, owner of green energy firm Ecotricity, said the Green Britain Centre in Swaffham was not profitable following its closure in 2018. Picture: Ian Burt

Breckland Council is working on an arrangement which would see Swaffham's Green Britain Centre, off Turbine Way, transferred into the hands of Swaffham Town Council (STC).

As part of the deal, STC would hand over a five-acre former allotment site off New Sporle Road known as Day's Field, which already has planning permission for 51 new homes.

At its peak, the Green Britain Centre was a thriving educational facility which also gave the public a unique opportunity to climb to the top of its towering wind turbine.

But in June last year the facility closed suddenly, with green energy firm Ecotricity - manager since 2008 - stating it was unprofitable.

The Green Britain Centre, Swaffham, closed unexpectedly in 2018. Picture: Ian BurtThe Green Britain Centre, Swaffham, closed unexpectedly in 2018. Picture: Ian Burt

Having marketed the building for rent or sale in the ensuing months, landlord Breckland Council has now confirmed its preferred bid was lodged by STC.

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While a deal is yet to be finalised, STC would seek to create a hub for a range of local services and potentially reopen the iconic turbine.

Swaffham mayor Jill Skinner said: "We're delighted to be frontrunner to take over this building and we have a vision of making it a one-stop shop for a variety of local services.

The Green Britain Centre, Swaffham, closed unexpectedly in 2018. Picture: Ian BurtThe Green Britain Centre, Swaffham, closed unexpectedly in 2018. Picture: Ian Burt

"We've begun preliminary discussions with a number of our potential partners who may be interested in offering services from the site in the future and we hope it will be open to the public again in 2020.

"The people of Swaffham should be assured that, before any deal is concluded, we will hold extensive public consultation to detail what we have in mind.

"Nothing will be signed until we are absolutely sure that we can deliver a viable project that will meet the needs of our growing town."

Despite the existing planning permission, Breckland Council says it is still considering options for Day's Field.

A consultation event is expected to take place in the new year, during which further details will be available and the public can submit their feedback.

Paul Hewett, Breckland's executive member for contracts and assets, added: "Everyone is working hard to make this deal work and, if it does, there will be benefits for the community of Swaffham as well as the wider district."

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