Large part of Fakenham Community Centre could shut for seven months

A large part of Fakenham Community Centre is likely to remain closed for approximately seven months, leaving several community groups desperately looking for new homes.

A closure date has not been finalised but North Norfolk District Council's property manager Tony Turner said that once this is done the centre may not fully opened again until Easter.

Structural engineers regard the Oak Street building to be unsafe because supporting walls are failing to hold the roof securely.

The cost of the repairs has not yet been established but there is good news for some groups with the bar area to remain open.

Mr Turner said: 'We gave an order on September 17 for engineers to investigate the structure by breaking out parts of the walling, looking at the roof structure and designing remedial works necessary.

'We have been advised that it will take some four weeks to establish the cause, extent and full remedy of repairs necessary to the walls and secure roof movement.

'The engineer has estimated another four weeks in getting suitable quotes from contractors and another four to six weeks for the work to be completed.

Most Read

'With breaks for Christmas and New Year together for allowance for bad weather it could well be around Easter before work is completed. We have yet to establish the full nature of the issues with the engineer, so we have no idea of the total costs at this stage.'

Hundreds of people will be affected by the closure as the centre is used by 10 community groups every week and several other events throughout the year.

The building is owned by Norfolk County Council and leased to NNDC which leases it on to Fakenham Community Association.

Mr Turner said: 'We are working hard with the association and have given them first refusal on office space in the neighbouring Fakenham Connect building. We might not be able to accommodate all of their wishes, but will do whatever we can.'

Mr Turner added that the an alternative entrance would need to be arranged in order to keep the bar area open.

The Fakenham branch of the Citizen's Advice Bureau has been badly hit.

Chief officer for Citizen's Advice North Norfolk Fiona Hunter said: 'At Fakenham Community Centre we had three interview rooms which we used on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Now we are operating from one room in Wells on a Monday and one room in the Fakenham Connect building on Wednesdays and Thursdays. This means people have to make appointments and they have to wait longer to be seen.

'The number of enquiries we receive has increased by between 19pc and 25pc year on year for the last three years. We need to find a suitable premises soon. It's difficult because we can't just use an open space, we need interview rooms to respect people's privacy. We also need disabled access and to be close to the centre of Fakenham.'

Anyone wishing to make an appointment with the Fakenham CAB should call the North Walsham office on 01692 402570. Anyone who feels they can offer the CAB a home should call the same number or e mail

Anyone who can offer fakenham and District Light Operatic Society a venue for their December show should call 07931 262147.

Meanwhile, Fakenham Parish Church is giving its facilities free of charge to a local blood donors group and the Fakenham branch of the Royal British Legion.

Rev Adrian Bell said he is happy to talk to anyone who would like to use the church.