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Keep our dream alive plea

PUBLISHED: 15:36 09 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:08 03 March 2010

RESIDENTS on a Felixstowe housing estate are praying they will be able to keep their dream of a community centre alive today.

For the past two years people living in Adastral Close have forged a remarkable sense of community spirit by setting up a place for the young and the old.

RESIDENTS on a Felixstowe housing estate are praying they will be able to keep their dream of a community centre alive today.

For the past two years people living in Adastral Close have forged a remarkable sense of community spirit by setting up a place for the young and the old.

Today they will learn whether Suffolk Coastal District Council's south area development sub-committee will grant a further

extension to the centre's temporary planning permission.

The vision of a centre for the neighbourhood took shape in Karen Brown's kitchen in Adastral Close three years ago.

Residents on the former RAF estate at the very top of Langer Road were fed up with being the forgotten part of Felixstowe.

Ms Brown said: "My children wanted to go to the Sea Cadets but it was too far away."

There was only one thing for it and that was to do it themselves – so the Dreamscape Community Action Group was formed in 1998.

Orwell Housing Association that owns the houses, loaned them 37 Adastral Close rent-free, to see how they fared with running their own centre.

Temporary planning permission was given to help them find their feet while they raised funds to find a more permanent solution.

Two years on and they have been so successful that now they are anxiously waiting to hear if they can get temporary planning permission for a final year.

During the next 12 months they are hoping to boost funds so that they can buy their own portable building and keep their new found community spirit alive.

It will cost them more than £4,000 for the cabin, £1,000 of which they have already raised from events such as Christmas fairs and car boot sales.

The committee is also applying for an Awards for All grant to see if they can raise the extra money.

As well as housing cooking clubs, sewing clubs and girls and boys clubs, the community centre has also been a base where residents have been able to complete computer qualifications.

In link with the Open College Network, certificates have also been issued and some residents have even been spurred on to go to college.

Ms Brown said: "There is a real need for adult education as you have to go out of town for things like that."

A gardening club has also been started and tubs have been bought to be dotted around the estate and a flower bed has been dug.

Money for seeds and bulbs as well as for bills in the two-bedroomed community centre, all comes out of an amenity fund given to the group by Orwell Housing Association.

Another reason to try and raise money for the new building is because the community 'house' is just not big enough.

Norman Austin, treasurer of the Residents Association (which merged with the Dreamscape Community Centre Association) said: "We want to open up a youth club as the nearest ones are in Felixstowe and Walton.

"I spoke to some of the youngsters on the estate the other day and they said they either go to friends houses or just hang around outside.

"I asked them if there was a club available to them that perhaps had a pool table and a tennis table, would they use it?

"They said they would be more than pleased to."

Mr Austin said they would also like to be able to put more activities on for the elderly such as bingo and whist drives.

But at the moment they have had to cancel many of the groups because they are waiting on tenterhooks to find out whether they have a future.

Mr Austin said: "Orwell Housing have been a real help through all this and we could not have done it without them."

Paul Kingston, director of housing and care services at Orwell was delighted to have been able to help:

"Orwell Housing Association is pleased to be associated with this community-led venture and have been actively supporting the residents in their quest to bring about a more permanent centre," he said.

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