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King's Lynn Guildhall offers 'opportunity we can't ignore', council chiefs claim



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Multi-million plans to redevelop a historic Lynn arts complex offer “a unique opportunity” for both the town and the wider region, it was claimed yesterday.

West Norfolk Council leaders have backed new proposals which aim to secure more than £8 million of external funding for the regeneration of the St George’s Guildhall site.

Members of the authority’s ruling cabinet backed plans to establish a new charity to run the King Street site, and submit an application for more than £3 million of Heritage Lottery funding when they met in Lynn yesterday afternoon.

The latest role of the St George's Guildhall complex has been as a Covid vaccination centre.
The latest role of the St George's Guildhall complex has been as a Covid vaccination centre.

Around £4.8 million has already been set aside from the Towns Fund allocation from the Government.

Deputy leader Graham Middleton told the meeting officials were trying to create a “sustainable financial future” for the remainder of the period that the council leases the site from the National Trust – around 30 years.

He said the new project was building on earlier work which including a previous unsuccessful bid for lottery funding.

The meeting was also told that the allocation of Towns Fund cash meant the project was in “a very strong position” for a lottery bid.

Development portfolio holder Richard Blunt added: “It’s a unique opportunity and we can’t afford to ignore it.”

But, despite broad support from across the political spectrum, some concerns were raised about how the site might be managed and the possible consequences of failing to secure lottery funding.

Green Party councillor Michael de Whalley called for user groups to be properly represented within the proposed management structures.

And Labour group leader Charles Joyce asked: “Is the council prepared to put its hand in its pocket for a building it doesn’t own?”

But corporate services portfolio holder Brian Long said now was the right time to secure the future of a venue that he argued could be a major attraction for anyone visiting the UK with an interest in the arts due to its Shakespearean links.

He also warned the council could be left “holding the baby” in the future if the plan did not proceed now.

Mr Middleton said the possibility of involving other institutions such as Alive West Norfolk, the body which already runs attractions such as the nearby Corn Exchange, had also been considered.



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