The fate of a former Tesco in Lowestoft has been decided - four and a half years after the supermarket branch closed down.

The site, on London Road North, will be used by First Light Festival CIC as a cultural hub for the next two years. 

The announcement comes after figures showed that 26pc of stores in the once bustling town are now boarded up - almost double the national vacancy rate.

First Light will also use the former Tesco Metro, which closed down in 2019, as a base to test ideas for the development of a new cultural quarter in Lowestoft town centre.

Lowestoft Journal: The vacant Tesco Metro on London Road North in Lowestoft.The vacant Tesco Metro on London Road North in Lowestoft. (Image: Mick Howes)

It is part of a project called The Battery of Ideas which is being funded with £700,000 from Arts Council England and £300,000 from East Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council.

Genevieve Christie, First Light Festival CIC chief executive, said: “We’re thrilled that the Battery of Ideas project will be starting this spring with so many wonderful partners from across different sectors.

Lowestoft Journal: The former Post Office on London Road North in Lowestoft will reopen as an arts venue.The former Post Office on London Road North in Lowestoft will reopen as an arts venue. (Image: Mick Howes)

"The Battery testing space will fire up ideas, enthusiasm and involvement, grow public awareness of the new Cultural Quarter development and create a step change in creative production and cultural participation in Lowestoft," she added.

East Suffolk Council has also been awarded £600,000 from Arts Council England to help transform the former town centre Post Office into an arts venue. 

The money will go towards works to convert the building into work studio spaces, galleries, education space and live-work accommodation. 

The building, also on London Road North, has been vacant and unoccupied since 2018.

Councillor Toby Hammond, cabinet member for economic development and regeneration at East Suffolk Council, said: “These are hugely important schemes, and we are delighted to have received a huge funding boost from Arts Council England to help us deliver them. 

“We are determined to see the revitalisation of Lowestoft and the reimagining of the town centre as a place to come, not only to shop, but to enjoy and experience creative and cultural opportunities."