The Friends of Holt Hall have expressed their disappointment in the decision to close and sell centre, which has been enjoyed for more than 70 years but say the fight to save it is far from over.
At its meeting on December 7, Norfolk County Council Cabinet made the decision FOHH had been dreading, ceasing its activities with immediate effect and putting the hall and its 75 acres of outdoor space and woodland up for sale.
But the group, which has campaigned to keep Holt Hall open, says it is not the end of the road and is looking into the possibility that the hall could become an Asset of Community Value when it does go on the market.
Trustee and treasurer Nic Hopkins said: “To say we are disappointed is an understatement, but this is not the time to list these emotions. It is time to explain why we think it is not the end.”
In a statement, FOHH says it is cheered by the supportive letters and the number of people signing its petition at www.change.org/SaveHoltHall – 5,800 have signed so far and are still signing after the council’s decision.
“It is a massive demonstration to show people see the public interest in Saving Holt Hall,” said Nic. “This is not just sentimentality. It is about values. You never know, events might even lead to a change of policy in the administration at County Hall, and public opinion may prove to be a powerful influence on county councillors.”
In October, the council announced it was no longer able to afford the facility, saying it would rather enable outdoor learning than provide it. And this month it was decided to close it completely.
Fearing the worst, the Friends have applied to North Norfolk District Council to have it made an asset of community value, meaning that they could bid for it themselves.
Greg Peck, cabinet member for property, urged them to “honestly appraise their business case and to really consider the viability of operating the site as an outdoor education facility” and Nic said the Friends would be heeding this advice.
“We shall take his advice and further develop a robust business plan, but we are going to do this in consultation with the individuals and organisations who have expressed interest already in partnership ways to take forward an alternative future for Outdoor Learning at Holt Hall.
“We are doing our homework, researching and talking, listening and planning, with possible partners, other Outdoor Learning centres of expertise, users and private individuals and, we hope, Norfolk County Council.”
The decision on the ACV should be made in January and the Friends are hopeful of a positive outcome.