'Help us shape the future!' Consultation opens on new community hub plan for King's Lynn town centre
People in Lynn are being urged to help shape plans for a new, multi-million pound community hub in the heart of the town.
A consultation programme is being launched this afternoon on a project which would see library services moved to a new home in the town centre.
And officials say they also want to hear ideas for future use of the current library building, insisting they want to develop a sustainable plan which has public support.
The consultation is the latest phase of a multi-user community hub (MUCH) project which has been high on the agenda for political and business leaders for nearly two years.
Around £6.4 million could be spent on the scheme, if final plans secure funding as part of an anticipated £25 million Town Deal package. A business case is expected to be submitted in the spring.
But officials speaking at a media briefing this morning maintained they wanted residents to help shape what they regard as an "exciting opportunity", rather than having schemes imposed upon them.
Town Deal Board chairman Graham Purkins said: “Whilst we have an outline proposal for the hub, we need the community to help us to shape and determine the detail of what the space will offer.
“We’ve placed consultation and engagement at the heart of developing our projects and plans for the town and we are so grateful to everyone who gives feedback so generously.
“And I would ask the public, please do tell us what you think – we are listening.”
The preferred site for the new hub, which would incorporate library and adult learning services, is the former Argos building in the Vancouver Quarter.
Feasibility work is ongoing to determine whether the site should be refurbished or rebuilt, or whether a hybrid proposal is brought forward.
The consultation is seeking public views on using the current library and adult learning services, what works well, and what people think could be provided in the new hub.
It is also seeking ideas for the future use of the library, which Norfolk County Council officials maintain they have "no intention" of selling without a sustainable arrangement being in place.
County council deputy leader Graham Plant said: “We know how much people value the Carnegie building – as do we too.
“We want to reassure the community that any use in the future will recognise and respect the heritage of this important building.
“We will continue to care for and curate the historic book collections currently kept in the existing library, connecting the community with local history.
“We don’t have any firm plans for the future use of the Carnegie building and we want the community to help us to identify possible options for the building, and also tell us what they would like to see in a new community and learning hub for the town.
“The public’s views are vital in informing the offer of this important facility.”
West Norfolk Council deputy leader Graham Middleton said he wanted to "put to bed" speculation about the future of the present library, amid claims it could be turned into flats – which have previously been denied – or another commercial use found.
"We are committed to securing a future role for the Carnegie building which is respectful of its heritage. It is a building which I know means so much to local people."
The public consultation takes the form of an online survey, which is open now and continues until December 22 at 5pm, plus four drop-in events. Printed copies of the survey and postcards will also be available.
Two will take place at the Events Office in Tuesday Market Place on Thursday, December 9, between noon and 2pm, and Saturday, December 11, from 2 to 4pm.
The others will be at the Lynn library itself on December 11 and 16, both from 10am until noon.
Stakeholder sessions are set to take place in the New Year.
To take part, click here.