Charities in frame to take on school site

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Latest community news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter
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Three groups are in discussions to take over the use of Uplands Middle School in Sudbury on a short-term basis.

The school has been closed since July and Suffolk County Council has spent the summer talking with interested parties about its future.

During a meeting on Tuesday, Mark Parker, a business development specialist at the council, said The Befriending Scheme, The Bridge Project and Stour Valley Vineyard Church were all keen to use the building.

“The council is offering a short-term lease until August 2014,” he said.

“Plans are being put together for a viable and sustainable use for the site.”

Mr Parker told Sudbury Town Council that the three charitable organisations – all currently based in Sudbury – had met on Friday to explore the various options.

“There are some exciting ideas and the groups are talking about whether to collaborate or if they want to compete to be the lead operator,” he said.

Under the proposals, other community groups would be able to rent out parts of the building, with the surrounding playing fields utilised by nearby schools – most likely Ormiston Sudbury Academy and Tudor Primary School.

Mr Parker said the council wanted to know who would be occupying the former school into next year by November and warned taking over the building, which has maintenance costs of around £100,000 a year, would not be easy.

“It is a fairly daunting task for these organisations,” he said.

“If this is not successful, we will seek another use for the building.”

Mr Parker added that the groups would be given support to help prevent them falling victim to financial difficulties.