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Youth drop-in bid still on course

PUBLISHED: 11:28 27 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:46 08 July 2010

Businessmen in Watton are working against the clock to acquire a former doctor's surgery to convert it into a youth facility before it is snapped up for a housing development.

Businessmen in Watton are working against the clock to acquire a former doctor's surgery to convert it into a youth facility before it is snapped up for a housing development.

Norwich-based Iceni Developments, who own the property at St Giles Road, have submitted an application for 14 dwellings on the site.

However, the site has also attracted interest from businessmen and councillors who are looking to turn it into a drop-in centre for youngsters under ambitious plans to enhance the town's youth facilities.

Julian Horn, who is involved in the project, said he was aware of the developers' intentions, insisting that the application would not derail their plans or push up the property's sale price.

“We knew the application was coming,” he said. “The issue here is not the value of the property but time. We need to be absolutely sure everything is in place for us to acquire the property and the acquisition hinges on a decision we expect from the Charity Commission.”

Currently Watton Town Council, who are the trustees of a field in Harvey Street, want to sell off the land and raise enough cash to acquire the surgery.

However, the authority needs the approval from the Charity Commission before it can dispose of the field estimated at £500,000.

If the body agrees to the sale, councillors can then consider acquiring the surgery.

Councillors and businessmen have previously considered the possibility of a swap between developers and the council whereby the former would acquire the council-owned land in Harvey Street in exchange for the doctor's surgery.

Paul Adcock, who is spearheading the youth project said: “Planning permission has been sought for the conversion of the doctor's surgery by the owners, but that was expected by us and the town council. They [the owners] had a prior intent to develop it as such and they are covering themselves in the event that we are not able to go ahead with the acquisition of the property should the Charity Commission disagree with the sale of the land in Harvey Street. The planning permission that has been submitted will not alter our cooperation with the developers.”

Mr Adcock said the money they would have to stump up for the property would be the same that any other potential buyer would have to pay.


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