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.
The move follows a closed debate on the issue at a panel meeting earlier this month, 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 application for Heritage Lottery funding to renovate it was turned down in March last year.
Presentations on the issue have been given to members of the council’s regeneration and development panel and the King’s Lynn area consultative committee during closed sessions within their latest meetings.
West Norfolk Council deputy leader Elizabeth Nockolds said: “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 current operation models and how certain parts of the complex are presently used.
The other options put forward were to continue current operations, hand the site back to the National Trust or mothball 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.
They also said that mothballing the building would also require significant investment to maintain the building and replace its roof.
Five councillors have been appointed to sit on the working party – Judy Collingham, former borough mayor Colin Manning, Graham Middleton, Andy Tyler and Avril Wright.
The group is expected to hold its first meeting tomorrow, where a timetable for its work is likely to be finalised.