Leisure plans backed
Watton residents have voted overwhelmingly in favour of ambitious plans which could see the town become a hub of sports and leisure excellence.More than 200 people turned up at Wayland Community High School on Thursday night to hear the proposals for the creation of a drop-in centre for youth, an indoor activity facility and a large town park on the fields near the Watton Sports Centre.
Watton residents have voted overwhelmingly in favour of ambitious plans which could see the town become a hub of sports and leisure excellence.
More than 200 people turned up at Wayland Community High School on Thursday night to hear the proposals for the creation of a drop-in centre for youth, an indoor activity facility and a large town park on the fields near the Watton Sports Centre.
The project estimated to cost nearly £3m and put forward by two enterprising residents, Paul Adcock and Julian Horn, had won the backing of the local town council, but needed large public support before it is moved a step forward.
The two businessmen believe the plans could get under way once a field at Watton Youth Centre in Harvey Street is sold off and the money obtained would then be used to refurbish the former doctor's surgery in St Giles' Road. The field, donated by a local family to benefit local youth is in the trusteeship of the town council. But the sale which could fetch at least £600,000 can only take place if the Charity Commission is convinced that there is enough public support.
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“For years the town has faced criticism for providing very little to keep young people off the streets,” said Paul Adcock.
“We have been motivated by the efforts of the youngsters in Watton to look after themselves and we both have admiration and great respect for them. We have surveyed them and found that they are very keen to have a drop-in centre in town and an indoor sports facility that would give them something to do and somewhere to socialise.”
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Speaking at the meeting Mr Adcock outlined his vision for the drop-in centre which would see a former doctor's surgery converted into a centre for socialising.
“There will be pool tables, game station and possibly a cyber café - all interesting activities which would keep our youth off the streets,” he said.
The indoor activity centre north of the town would offer facilities for a range of sports including a skate and BMX park.
The venue would be located within a town park which would include a dog walking area, a tree trail, a jogging track and a lake for canoeing.
Speaking after the meeting, Lisa Clayton, chairman of the Wayland Youth Council said: “At points we have felt that it would be a lot easier to keep the voice of the youth unheard… but with members of the public who we do not know on a personal basis backing us through thick and thin - we have worked through any difficulties and finally feel that we have been heard.”
Last month the town mayor Keith Gilbert said that the sale of the field could attract up to £1m in grant funding to be put back into building up youth facilities.
Several residents at the meeting expressed their fears that the sale of the field in Harvey Street would attract large housing developments and associated anti-social behaviour. They also raised concerns that the conversion of the former doctor's surgery would also lead to anti-social behaviour and noise pollution.
But Mr Gilbert tried to allay fears, claiming the overall benefit of the proposed scheme would by far outweigh any potential inconveniences.