A working group has been set up to look at ways of securing the long-term future of the St George’s Guildhall complex in Lynn. council chiefs have announced today.
The move follows a closed debate on the issue at a panel meeting last week, where members were presented with several options, including mothballing the site or handing it back to its owner, the National Trust.
There has been renewed concern about the long-term future of the King Street site since a multi-million pound bid for Heritage Lottery funding to renovate it was turned down in March last year.
West Norfolk Council deputy leader Elizabeth Nockolds said today: “We had a long and healthy debate about the challenges we face with the Guildhall complex.
“The site itself comprises several different elements including the theatre, gallery, White Barn, Shakespeare Barn and offices.
“The main theatre area is in dire need of maintenance and improvement work to make it fit for purpose.
“Over the years, some repair work has been undertaken but now several hundred thousand pounds of work would be required just to keep the building in an appropriate state of repair.
“The cost would be even higher to bring it up to a modern operational standard.”
Panel members backed a proposal to pursue a whole site solution, including a review of operation models and how certain parts of the complex are used.
The other options presented were to continue current operations, hand the site back to the National Trust or mothballing it.
Officials say giving the site back would require a multi-million pound payment from the council to cover the remaining 33 years of its lease, while mothballing it would require significant investment to maintain the building and replace its roof.
Five councillors have been appointed to sit on the working party - Judy Collingham, Colin Manning, Graham Middleton, Andy Tyler and Avril Wright.