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Bid for veterans village at Pontins 'making progress'

PUBLISHED: 09:42 10 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:09 10 April 2019

An aerial photo of the former Pontins site at Hemsby, captured with a DJI drone, as fire crews deal with the blaze. Picture: Simon Carter

An aerial photo of the former Pontins site at Hemsby, captured with a DJI drone, as fire crews deal with the blaze. Picture: Simon Carter

Archant

A veterans’ village bid for a derelict holiday camp is making progress with a company set up to perform negotiations and a website about to go live.

Neil Archbold who is spearheading a bid to build the UK's first veterans village at Hemsby on the old Pontins site Picture: supplied by Neil ArchboldNeil Archbold who is spearheading a bid to build the UK's first veterans village at Hemsby on the old Pontins site Picture: supplied by Neil Archbold

Neil Archbold, the Falkland’s veteran behind the ambitious scheme, said he had been working tirelessly behind the scenes since going public with his plans last month.

Mr Archbold, said negotiations would be more likely to succeed if they were carried out through a company rather than an individual and a board of directors had been installed.

A not-for-profit community interest company was also being set up to deal with the veterans aspect of the scheme, working with the charity Forgotten Heroes.

The 55-year-old from Basingstoke wants to transform the abandoned Pontins site into a healing hub for veterans and their families.

The proposed plans for the Pontins site in Hemsby. Image supplied by Northern TrustThe proposed plans for the Pontins site in Hemsby. Image supplied by Northern Trust

He also sees potential as a centre for military reunions, as well as a safe place for rest and relaxation.

Under the veterans plan local people would have access to leisure facilities, and with some of the site being used for veteran families on holiday it would retain more of the holiday aspect some locals were looking for.

There would also be employment opportunities and the chance to re-use some of the chalets that were “going to waste” while people needed homes.

Mr Archbold said he was keen to keep momentum going and to do everything in his power to persuade the site owners Northern Trust that the plan had benefits for everyone.

“There is a lot of interest in it,” he said.

Firefighters tackle a blaze at the former Pontins site at Hemsby.Firefighters tackle a blaze at the former Pontins site at Hemsby.

“And as soon as I get the company number we can launch the website. When I start negotiating hopefully they will be able to see there is something in it for them.”

The new company leading the bid is called CSBS - Combined Services Veteran Support.

Mr Archbold said: “It started off as a small hotel idea and now it has turned into this.

“The feedback from the community and the veterans has been absolutely brilliant.”

He said it had been a sharp learning curve and he hoped to open negotiations with Northern Trust within the next week.

A mixed-use scheme is currently in the hands of planners at Great Yarmouth Borough Council involving homes, holiday use and retail elements.

It has yet to be decided.

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