A Public Statement from the Friends of Holt Hall

Norfolk County Council have decided to continue with the decision to place the Holt Hall for sale on the open market. Until March 2020 this operated as a much loved and respected Environmental Outdoor Learning Centre.  

Tom Green, Chair of Trustees, said, “Friends of Holt Hall remain optimistic that there is still the opportunity for Environmental and Outdoor Learning (EOL) to continue at Holt Hall for the children of the county and wider community benefit, which FOHH will continue to keep at the forefront of the NCC agenda”.

Thanks to great support across the county, we have been able to take proper advice and, with great creative input from Richard Draper, the founder and former CEO of The Benjamin Foundation, and with a partner, Dr Sanjay Kaushal, a former GP who runs the successful Castlemeadow group of retirement care homes, we developed an imaginative and compelling vision. Nic Hopkins, Trustee and Treasurer, said, “This vision is for a future community-based enterprise at Holt Hall, focused on environmental outdoor learning and supported by a pragmatic and detailed set of business plans.”

Dr Sanjay Kaushal, of Castlemeadow Group and key partner in this vision, said, “Holt Hall should be developed for the children of Norfolk because of its history and potential for transforming young people’s lives.  If we are successful in now acquiring the Hall and grounds and launching our new community enterprise, we shall establish a robust and viable business offering residential and day visits to Holt Hall for Environmental and Outdoor Learning and Climate Change Studies. Our plan makes these sustainable through a diversified range of complementary and sympathetic services.  It will take time to build but our determination is there, step by step.”

Towards the end of the Asset of Community value moratorium period, triggered by the Norfolk CC giving notice of disposal in January 2021, FOHH submitted formal proposals. This followed meetings with officers and Cabinet Members last May to July. We were advised that these proposals would be subject to detailed review and subsequent discussions to provide further clarification and due diligence points.  Of course, we accept there was no obligation for NCC to accept our proposals.

We received recently the frustrating news that despite the acknowledged strength and excellent quality of our proposals, NCC has now announced that it decided that our proposals should be tested against other expressions of interest in Holt Hall which claim also to deliver sustainable community benefits such as education, environmental outdoor learning and public access.  Despite not having the detail behind this decision explained to us, we are assured our proposals have in no way been rejected and we have been encouraged to add to our proposal. 

The public should take confidence from the fact that FOHH is determined and ready to work further with its partner on a proposal for a new community enterprise to acquire and operate Holt Hall delivering Environmental Outdoor Learning and Climate Change Studies within a new sustainable business model.  We do so because we believe it is right and we have a great chance of success. We have much work to do to deliver our indicative bid and proposal by the deadline of 1st December.

Richard Draper, who has provided such expertise on starting up new community ventures, said, “We are positioned as serious, professional and realistic bidders, based on the credible and high quality work we have already done.  We are now studying the materials now released from Norfolk CC’s marketing agents, with the determination we will be the successful bidders.”

We shall maintain updates on our website and social media channels and we hope these will answer questions in the public interest in so far as FOHH is able to do. contact us through fohhinfo@gmail.com.

Trustees: Tom Green, Nic Hopkins, Iona Chamberlain, Phil Bacon, Kate Jewell.

Thanks to the great engagement of Dr Sanjay Kaushal and Richard Draper.

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