Time is of the essence as groups explore middle school takeover

A LONG SHOT: Anesta Newson, from The Bridge Project, which works with disadvantaged adults.

A LONG SHOT: Anesta Newson, from The Bridge Project, which works with disadvantaged adults.

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Charities keen to take over the use of a closed Sudbury school have admitted they face a race against time to put together viable plans.

The Stour Valley Vineyard Church, The Befriending Scheme and The Bridge Project have all stated an intention to occupy part of Uplands Middle School in York Road.

Suffolk County Council, which owns the site, has told the Sudbury groups that it wants talks to have reached a conclusion by November and is offering a short-term lease until August next year.

Emma Stewart-Darling, who has run the Stour Valley Vineyard Church with husband Andrew since 2007, said there was little room for error.

“The timescale is a huge concern as it is very tight,” she said.

“We have until November and then nine months to get a business plan together for whoever is going to be the lead operator.”

Mrs Stewart-Darling said discussions were ongoing with the other interested parties.

“We have similar ideas, but it’s a huge building and the question is whether it is a viable option,” she added.

During a meeting last week, Mark Parker, a business development specialist at the county council, admitted the groups looking to use the building, which costs around £100,000 a year to maintain, faced a “daunting” prospect.

Anesta Newson, chief executive of The Bridge Project in Gainsborough Street, said: “It is a long shot, but we are looking to make it feasible.

“We are happy to collaborate with the two other charities. It is early days and we know it is a risk.”