A VICTORIAN community centre will be restored to its former glory after Essex County Council found a solution for its restoration and redevelopment.

The council has struck a deal with developers Marden to convert Longmeads House, Writtle into 10 apartments, with three more homes built in the grounds, along with a brand new purpose-built community centre and car parking.

David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said: “Longmeads House has been an iconic part of village life in Writtle and continues to play a vital role by hosting all manner of community groups and clubs, events and a bar.

“That’s why we were so committed to finding a solution that would rescue this beautiful building for future generations.

“The proposal means we can restore Longmeads to its former glory, provide 13 new homes and a brand new community centre fit for the 21st century.”

A consultation has been undertaken within the community and with Chelmsford City Council as the planning authority.

Subject to planning permission the new facilities could be available to the community by summer 2018.

Marden propose to build a new single-storey community centre of 2,960 square feet within the grounds, complete with car park.

Essex County Council will then gift the land and new buildings to Writtle Parish Council with special restrictions that it can only be used for community purposes.

Marden will finance and implement the new community centre project to ensure a seamless move over of current services and facilities, before it can begin work on Longmeads House.

Ralph Bray, on behalf of Writtle Parish Council, said: “We are delighted that after a long and complex process Essex County Council is now on the cusp of submitting a planning application for our new community centre.

“The new building will be far more efficient, fit for purpose and cost effective and provide the parish with a new home for community facilities in Writtle and for our two longstanding educational tenants, Writtle Green Preschool and Talking Newspapers. “I am sure the late Baroness Platt of Writtle would be absolutely delighted that the fruits of her labour in securing the lease on Longmeads House for the parish so many years ago have produced this new building that will be a credit to the memory of her name.”

John Aldridge, councillor for Writtle said: “The proposals for Longmeads House provide a sound solution for an old building that no longer meets local need. Writtle Parish Council will now gain full title to a brand new building to meet the needs of its community in the 21st century. The new community building represents real partnership working between the Writtle Parish Council and ECC.”