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Two former community centres could be demolished for new social housing

Two disused community centres across Ashfield could be knocked down to make way for new affordable housing.

Ashfield District Council says the two hubs – in separate parts of Sutton – have remained largely unused and “unsustainable” since the pandemic.

It now wants to approve its own plans to demolish them so four social homes can be added to its council housing stock.

A council report confirms demand has declined for the two centres, which are Brierley House, in Brierley Road, Sutton, and Mill House, in Mill Lane, Huthwaite.

Figures show Brierley House had about 568 hours of usage in the 2019/20 financial year, prior to the pandemic, which meant it was used for about a quarter of the time.

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However, last year, it was used for just five hours – or 0.2 per cent of the time.

The authority said Mill House has faced a “similar decline” since 2019/20 but had zero bookings or usage in 2022/23.

Neither centre generated any income for the authority last year despite incurring day-to-day running costs and repairs.

These costs, the council says, exceeded £8,000 for each centre last year.

This doesn’t include long-term improvements to ensure each centre remains fit for purpose.

These costs are estimated at £36,000 for Mill House and £37,000 for Brierley House over the next five years, with longer-term costs “significantly higher”.

Now a council review has confirmed neither site is fit for purpose because they are “not sustainable, demand is limited, income [is] negligible and costs are on the rise”.

Instead, the authority wants to fully demolish both sites and create four affordable rental properties.

The Brierley House site has been earmarked for two two-bedroom bungalows, with two semi-detached homes planned at Mill House.

In total, the cost of building the new homes is expected to be £743,000, with Homes England funding to be requested to cover some costs.

The housing and demolition plan will be presented to the Ashfield Independent administration’s cabinet meeting on July 31.

In a report published ahead of the meeting, Andy Kirkland, the council’s development lead officer, said: “The community centre review has concluded the two centres in question are not sustainable.

“Demand is limited, income negligible and costs are on the rise.

“Investing in the centres [and] improving the facilities and connectivity so they are modern and attractive, was not considered viable.

“There is little evidence to suggest usage levels and income will increase sufficiently to pay back the money invested.

“In view of this, both sites are recommended for closure and the sites to be repurposed for affordable housing.

“Rental income from the properties will ensure payback of the capital investment.”

It comes as part of the administration’s plan to build 200 more council-owned properties between now and 2027.

A meeting of the cabinet last month outlined two other sites – in Hardwick Lane Rec in Sutton, and Central Avenue, Kirkby, where 47 homes could be built.

The target was set to address each vacant council house receiving more than 200 bids from people desperate to get new social housing in the district.

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