A parish council has sunk more than £350,000 into a failed bid to build a new village hall and community hub.

Heacham Parish Council bought the Old Dairy, at the corner of the High Street and Pound Lane, in 2014 and later obtained planning permission for a village hall, library, meeting rooms and offices there.

Now the authority says it is exploring other options for the site, including selling all or part of it, because the scheme is no longer cost effective.

Accounts show the council spent £225,000 buying the building, financed by a £260,000 government loan for "purchase and associated costs".

Eastern Daily Press: The Old Dairy site in HeachamThe Old Dairy site in Heacham (Image: Chris Bishop)

The summary, dated May 2022, said at that point it had spent more than £58,000 on loan repayments, £28,000 in architect's fees, £16,000 on project manager's fees and £7,000 on quantity surveyor's fees.

The total at the time, including fees for surveys, advice and design, was £362,924.34.

Village charity the Heacham Youth and Community Trust originally hoped a youth club could be set up in the dairy.

READ MORE: Heacham LIDL set for bigger car park and electric chargers

READ MORE: Heacham's landmark vote to curb second homes

Now it plans to register the building as a community asset, to put the brakes on efforts to sell it.

Its chairman Mike Jennings said: "We completely disagree with what they want to do, it's ridiculous.

"We'd like to buy part of it but we don't want them to sell it. If they sell it, they'll just put affordable homes on there."

Eastern Daily Press: How the council hoped to re-develop the siteHow the council hoped to re-develop the site (Image: Chris Bishop)

Parish council chair Paul Rawlinson said: "The youth and community trust want to have a hub for community events, if they wish to do that I would fully support it.

"It's not just a case of handing it over, it has to be purchased."

Mr Rawlinson joined the council 18 months ago hoping his background in project management would help move the Old Dairy project forward. But by then costs had spiralled to the point where it was longer viable.

"If you're looking at office space, around about 2015 when this was bought, the average cost per square metre was £1,200 - £1,300," he said. "It's almost £1,000 per square metre higher now.

"The price has gone up simply because of supply and demand. Is it cost effective for us to develop the site now? The answer is no."

Eastern Daily Press: The Old Dairy site in Heacham, which could now be sold offThe Old Dairy site in Heacham, which could now be sold off (Image: Chris Bishop)

Of the money spent so far, which the council hopes to recoup along with a surplus from any sale, he added: "You can't take on a site and look at then developing it without spending money.

"When I came to look at it, they'd done everything right."

The site is believed to be worth around £450,000, which would more than cover what the council has spent so far.

Businessman Mr Jennings, who owns a caravan site and supermarket on South Beach Road, said the charity would consider buying one of the buildings on the site to extend storage for its charity shop.

But it would rather see much of the site cleared and opened up for events.

"They could have farmers' markets on there, all kinds of things," said Mr Jennings. "It's a wonderful open space in the middle of the village."

In 2016, the charity bought a house and shop adjoining the site, which it was willing to demolish to make more space for the redevelopment.

It now runs the shop as a charity shop which raises money for local groups and lets the house as an affordable property.

Originally part of a committee set up to oversee the project, the trust withdrew in frustration over lack of progress and also requested the return of £70,000 it had given the council towards the project.

"It went on and on," said Mr Jennings. "We're going to do this, we're going to do that, we'll go and see what other people are doing then we'll come back and have another meeting in two months time."