£2.25 million King’s Lynn Arts Centre redevelopment plan revealed

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Plans for a £2.25 million redevelopment of the Lynn Arts Centre are set to be outlined tomorrow.

Council officials intend to draw up a bid for Heritage Lottery funding to meet much of the cost, with the authority itself investing up to £600,000 in the project.

The scheme gives new hope for the future of the King Street site, whose previous operators pulled out at the end of last year because of financial concerns.

And a report published ahead of the borough council’s regeneration and development panel meeting says new options have been considered because of that.

The document, by Mark Fuller, said: “The outcome from all works undertaken will be a sustainable, more flexible and varied space with a greater emphasis on public engagement, increased footfall and activity on the site, creating a cultural and heritage hub.”

Work contained in the project include the planned installation of a new lift, to improve wheelchair access, and the removal of the current seating and sloping floor from the Guildhall.

Mr Fuller admitted the measure will reduce audience capacity, but added: “The flat floor will allow multi-use of the space for a range of hirings and events to maximise use.”

The council has also held talks with the College of West Anglia to use part of the complex as a workshop and office space for new courses.

The college is working with Anglia Ruskin University and the Crafts Conservation Trust to set up courses in Heritage Construction Skills, which it hopes to begin running in two years’ time.

The report suggests the college will initially concentrate on A level qualifications before developing a degree programme.

Mr Fuller said: “Other buildings will be used to create multi-purpose spaces that when not used for exhibition or learning space can be rented out for complimentary cultural uses.

“Outline proposals will be worked up further over the next three months prior to a submission for funding to the HLF.”

The authority intends to submit a first phase bid in August, on which a decision is expected by the end of the year.

A second stage bid could then follow next summer if the initial application is successful.

Most of the proposed investment, £1.4 million, is set to be spent on renovating existing buildings on the site, including £230,000 towards a new roof.

Discussions have also taken place with county roads officials about changes to the front of the centre, which the report says are intended to enhance its setting.

A further £550,000 has been set aside to install the lift and link structures.

The remainder, £300,000, will fund what the report describes as a “complimentary activities programme.”

Mr Fuller said: “These elements will ensure a wider public engagement with the heritage of the buildings and raise awareness of the site.”