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Guildhall wins ‘vital’ listing

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A historic Lynn arts complex, whose future has been the subject of intense public debate in recent weeks, has been formally listed as an asset of community value.

Campaigners claim the new status given to the St George’s Guildhall gives it vital additional protection against potential closure.

But borough council officials say the listing does not change its position in relation to the venue.

The future of the King Street site has become a major talking point in recent weeks, after campaigners claimed its future, and that of the country’s oldest working theatre, was under threat.

King's Lynn Arts Centre - St George's Guildhall
King's Lynn Arts Centre - St George's Guildhall

The application, submitted by the Shakespeare’s Guildhall Trust (SGT), argued the site was worthy of listing, because of the number of events held there now, its history of theatrical performance dating back to the 15th century and the belief that Shakespeare himself appeared there.

An assessment of the application said the SGT had not shown how the community felt its interests were served by the hall’s continued usage.

But it said ticket sales for forthcoming events, including a Shakespeare festival planned for April showed “a clear interest in the local community to continue to use this asset for educational and social events in the future”.

SGT trustee Adrian Parker said the application was made at a time when its future use wasn’t clear.

He said: “We are thrilled that the borough bouncil recognises the significance of the building’s continued use on behalf of the whole community.”

But a spokesman for the borough council, which leases the site from the National Trust, yesterday said the status only provided a six-month period for the community to raise the funds necessary to buy the site if the current owner decides to put it up for sale.

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