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Plans for new Somerford community centre brings battle to an end
PLANS for a new community centre in Somerford have signalled the end of a three-year battle for campaigning residents.
The proposal for the new facility at the Somerford United Reformed Church, just metres from the existing hall, has been lodged by Sovereign Housing.
It hails a u-turn from the housing association, who in 2011 saw their plans to demolish the existing hall and build a two-storey office block approved on appeal following a rejection in 2010 by Christchurch council’s planning committee.
Residents had fought the application over concerns about the loss of the facility and the prospect of offices too close to people’s homes.
However, last year, relations between residents and Sovereign dramatically improved, leading to a revised proposal for a housing development at Scotts Green as well as talks over the community centre.
Since then meetings have taken place regularly between Somerford Community Partnership, local councillors and representatives from the housing association.
Under the new proposals the church will be refurbished and the facility will be available from Monday to Thursday between 8am and 10.30pm, Friday and Saturday from 8am to midnight and Sunday from 8am to 10.30pm.
Chris Hopkins, right, chairman of Somerford Community Partnership said: “This is a very exciting time for the community.
“Our old community centre is looking tired and out of date and we are looking forward to 2014 when our new community centre will be finished and we can all enjoy the facilities for many years to come – it will be a great start to the New Year.”
Cllr Denise Jones, Grange ward councillor said: “It is incredible the difference in situation in a short time.
“It is great to see people in the community so involved and we have come a very, very long way.”
A decision has not yet been made on the plans.
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