Reepham Nursery School has submitted a plan to move from Stimpson’s Piece into the town hall.
The proposal, which has been presented to Reepham Town Council, the trustee of the Stimpson’s Piece Charity, would see the nursery move from its current location in the pavilion on the town’s recreation ground, ultimately to a dedicated space in the town centre.
It has also been suggested that the town council office, currently located at the rear of the town hall, where it does not fully meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act, is moved to Stimpson’s Piece.
This follows the decision by Reepham Town Football Club not to renew its alcohol licence at the pavilion, where the bar area could be removed, and the adjacent store room converted into an office.
Reepham Nursery School currently operates three days a week, Tuesday–Thursday. However, it has been unable to extend its opening hours because of the needs of other users of the pavilion, with toys and equipment often having to be moved and stored after each session.
Speaking at the Stimpson’s Piece trustee meeting on 9 June, nursery school manager Rachael Jones said the pavilion, where the nursery is currently based, is not fit for purpose: “It is not a nurturing space,” she told councillors.
She said Reepham’s nursery school needed to find a location where it can expand and offer more facilities, such as a breakfast club, which would be a lifeline for working parents, particularly in a town that is expanding with more houses in the planning pipeline.
“Many nurseries are going to the wall,” she pointed out. “This is the time [to relocate] now. We need to make [the nursery] more accessible to the whole community.”
Although some councillors expressed concerns about increased traffic issues in the town centre, the nursery said it would adjust its opening times to coincide with the other schools in Reepham.
The town council plans to explore the nursery’s plans further, such as ensuring a change of use of the town hall is viable; there are also accessibility issues to be considered.
Ideally, the nursery school would have sole use of the building in Church Street, where there is a potential play area at the rear, noted town council chairman Paul Mitchell.
A further aim would be to make Stimpson’s Piece pavilion a proper community centre.
The current town hall building in Church Street was previously a school.
In 1827, Rev. Holley established a school in the old Hackford Poorhouse, which was demolished and rebuilt in 1860–62. This was a school for boys and girls of the parishioners of Hackford and Whitwell (children of Reepham parish attended St Mary’s School in Norwich Road).
The Hackford & Whitwell Parochial School was transferred to the Board of Education in 1890 and new brick school buildings were opened in School Road in 1893, which became Reepham Primary School as it is today.
The former school building in Church Street later became Reepham Town Hall, which came into the ownership of the parish council (now town council) in 1912.