New life beckons for old Mattishall school site

The old school at Mattishall being demolished. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The old school at Mattishall being demolished. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

The happy sound of children playing could soon return to a former school site in Mattishall after plans were submitted for a new £80,000 play area.

The Old School House on Dereham Road. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The Old School House on Dereham Road. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

The old school building in the village was demolished in 2013, having stood empty for a decade.

It had been bought by the Barlow Charity, set up by the parish council with a generous legacy from a local family, and it was hoped that it could be converted into a community centre.

But without sufficient funds for the work a decision was taken to raze the building to the ground and it has been left as open amenity land ever since.

The parish council held a public consultation over its future use and it was decided to devote the whole site to a play and exercise area.

It has now submitted plans to Breckland Council which were drawn up with the help and ideas of adults and children from the village.

A design and access statement with the application proposes the children's play equipment will include a roundabout, swings, play tower with slide, rope climber, toddler play frame, as well as fencing and self-closing gates.

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Adult equipment could include an air skier, elliptical cross trainer, bicycle, seated leg press and a concrete table tennis table.

It adds: 'Mattishall Parish Council believes this proposal will provide a much needed and wanted facility for the residents of Mattishall and that the proposed site is ideal in terms of both size and location.'

Parish councillor and Barlow Charity trustee John Rockliff said a lot of work had gone into the proposal by a new play area committee but if it is approved they would need to raise around £80,000 to complete the project.

'That would buy all the equipment and fencing and get it installed,' he said. 'Some money has already been raised but there is much more needed.

The site will be leased to the parish council for a peppercorn rent and they will maintain it. We hope it will be ready in months not years.'

He said the existing play area at the current Mattishall Primary School was more than 30 years old and out of school hours it depended on someone unlocking the gates to give people access.

'This is a much better site which is publicly accessible and will have much more modern equipment which can be used by the whole family,' he said.

'The play area committee is doing fantastic work developing the project. Without them the parish council would certainly not have been able to make this much progress.'

* The next fund-raiser for the project is an Easter egg hunt and Easter bonnet parade on Saturday, March 26 from 10am to 12pm on the village green.

The parade will be at 11.30am, the egg hunt costs £1 and there will be craft activities and refreshments in the scout hut.

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