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Tory councillor says council not thinking big enough for Hadleigh Hall revamp
WE’RE not thinking big enough! That is the response a Tory councillor has given plans to rejuvenate a dilapidated community hall and recreational ground in Hadleigh.
Ambitious plans have been drawn up to breathe new life into Hadleigh Hall, in Rectory Road, after Castle Point Council resumed responsibility for the site, which is also home to John Burrows Recreational Ground and former care home Solby’s House, in 2005.
These include refurbishing the existing buildings or completely demolishing them in favour of a new complex comprising of a sports hub, restaurant, offices, as well as a community hall and changing rooms.
However, Bill Sharp, councillor for St James’ ward, says the authority is thinking too small and that much more could be achieved on the nine-acre site than the plans allow.
He said: “There is so much scope here to build something truly great for Hadleigh if we just managed to go into partnership with someone. It is such a big site, we shouldn’t be thinking so small, we should be thinking bigger, not just creating a community hall.
“It could be anything, even a new arts venue to link up with the lovely fire station, just something that will be of great benefit to the people of Hadleigh. But unfortunately as a local authority it all comes down to money.”
This comes after residents suggested creating Hadleigh’s first hotel and a skatepark on the site at a council meeting in March.
The Conservative councillor also expressed his frustration at the plans still being stuck on the drawing board, 16 months after the community hall was shut down.
The council was forced to close the Seventies-built facility last year as it is in a shoddy state of repair after increasingly falling victim to vandalism, suffering smashed windows and graffiti.
He added: “I am happy to look at anything that will see this community hall refurbished, and impatient, like people in Hadleigh, to see it happen. It has been closed far too long now.
“There have been interested parties. If this were a business we would put an advertisement out in the paper saying exactly what we want, come up with ideas, find the investment and ask companies simply can you do this for us, yes or no.
“But with local government things always take a long time to achieve which is very very frustrating.”
Councillors will consider three different variations of the plans at a policy and scrutiny meeting at the council offices, in Kiln Road, Thundersley, from 7:30pm tonight.
However, Mr Sharp said it was “highly unlikely” a final decision will be made.
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