A "renewed" coastal town hall could open its doors within the next two and a half years.

Provided a funding bid is successful, and plans get the go-ahead, the grade II listed Town Hall in Lowestoft could be unveiled in the summer of 2025.

Lowestoft Journal: Lowestoft town hall.Lowestoft town hall. (Image: Mick Howes)

Having been vacant and unoccupied since spring 2015, a scheme has been progressing to revitalise the landmark building, which has been owned by Lowestoft Town Council (LTC) since 2017.

As part of the Lowestoft Town Hall Project - a Lowestoft Town Council initiative supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England, The Architectural Heritage Fund, The Towns Fund and East Suffolk Council - designs for the historic site were showcased to the public alongside a 3D model at the weekend.

Lowestoft Journal: Lowestoft's iconic Town Hall in the High Street, pictured in 1912.Lowestoft's iconic Town Hall in the High Street, pictured in 1912. (Image: JACK ROSE COLLECTION)

More than 100 people turned out on Friday and Saturday as two sessions to view the Town Hall plans and meet town councillors and the architects from HAT Projects, which is leading the design work, were successfully held at The Grit: Lowestoft Centre for the Arts & Heritage.

Lowestoft Journal: The Grit in Lowestoft.The Grit in Lowestoft. (Image: Mick Howes)

As the Lowestoft Town Hall Project aims to transform the site into "a multi-functioning building which will become an inclusive centre for the community and visitors", the Town Hall will become the home of Lowestoft Town Council.

Facilities that have been earmarked on the ground floor include a heritage hub, visitor information centre and an exhibition space alongside a cafe.

The restored former council chamber - with its stunning stained-glass windows - will be used for civil ceremonies, with a new courtyard and catering venue for receptions mooted.

Lowestoft Journal: The Lowestoft town hall plans on display.The Lowestoft town hall plans on display. (Image: Mick Howes)

On display over the weekend was a scale model of what the Town Hall could look like when finished - which proved particularly popular.

Hailing the success of the events, Jess Johnston, heritage project manager, said: "It was really positive.

"We had the public giving feedback at the sessions and it was overwhelming to hear such support for the project."

Lowestoft Journal:  Jess Johnstone Jess Johnstone (Image: Mick Howes)

She added: "People are excited to see the progress and they so want to see that building open again with a new lease of life." 

The designs will also be available for people to view online, at local libraries and community centres as the project updates plans which have been heavily influenced by the public consultation in 2021.

Lowestoft Journal: The town hall plans on display.The town hall plans on display. (Image: Mick Howes)

What next?

As work continues behind the scenes with the aim of securing the next stage of funding, a second stage bid will be submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund in May, with a planning application also lodged.

Lowestoft Journal: Timeline for the Lowestoft Town Hall ProjectTimeline for the Lowestoft Town Hall Project (Image: Mick Howes)

If the funding bid is successful, the "delivery stage" of the project will start in September ahead of the main contractor starting building work in April next year and the Town Hall reopening in the summer of 2025.

Earlier this month Lowestoft mayor Alan Green said: "2023 is such an important year for the Town Hall project with the next stage of applying for funding taking place in May."

A town council spokesman added: "If the Stage Two funding is approved, the Town Hall Project Team will continue with their aim of having the Town Hall open in Summer/Autumn 2025."