Lowestoft gets £24.9m for key town centre projects
- Credit: East Suffolk Council
Ambitious plans to transform Lowestoft for generations to come will go ahead after a major funding boost of almost £25m.
Two years after the UK's most easterly town was chosen as one of 100 places to benefit from the government's £3.6bn Towns Fund, Lowestoft is set to receive £24.9m for five key projects in the heart of the town.
They form part of the Lowestoft Place Board's plans to transform Lowestoft with a total investment of more than £540m, with minister for regional growth and local government Luke Hall announcing the boost following chancellor Rishi Sunak's budget.
The bulk - £14.7m - will be spent in the new Cultural Quarter, involving upgrades to the Marina Theatre and demolition of the vacant Battery Green car park.
A "new, vibrant building to support the performing arts" will be built in its place, as well as commercial and leisure facilities.
Stephen Javes, chairman of the board which comprises of representatives from public, private and voluntary organisations and is managed by East Suffolk Council, said: "This is incredibly exciting news for Lowestoft.
"We are delighted to have secured this funding which will enable us to deliver on the ambitions set out within the Town Investment Plan and help the town to thrive, by providing a catalyst for future change.
"We are looking forward to engaging with stakeholders and the community as this work progresses."
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The Station Quarter receives £2.9m for redevelopment of the derelict part of the railway station building, which has been vacant for more than 50 years, to create a restaurant or cafe.
The Historic Quarter will see £3.3m allocated to a "conservation-led" approach, including to the development of the former town hall, which has been vacant since 2015.
Craig Rivett, East Suffolk Council's deputy leader and cabinet member for economic development, said: "This is great news and reiterates that Lowestoft really is a town worth investing in.
"There is already so much happening in the town and this funding will drive real change through long-term economic growth, through investment in improvements to connectivity, land use and economic and cultural assets."
With additional funding being sought from Associated British Ports, the plan includes improvements to the port gateway to "secure the town's future as a hub for the clean energy sector", with £2.7m of the Town's Fund earmarked for the site.
The remaining £1.3m will go towards a programme of seafront improvement projects, including improvements to the promenade, replacement of the Royal Plain Fountains and redevelopment of the East Point Pavilion.
The town has already been awarded £750,000 from the Town's Fund as part of an early release of £80 million to kick-start projects nationwide.
The lion's share of that will go towards the revamp of the pavilion, including an internal redesign to provide a community space and options for small, pop-up style businesses.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous welcomed the news, saying: "First of all, the feedback I have had from the ministry was that it was a very well put together and presented proposal and the credit for that must go to the team at East Suffolk Council led by Stephen Javes.
"It is very good news and I am absolutely delighted.
"It fits in with the strategy, along with the Gull Wing bridge and flood defence scheme, of significant investment in the centre of town over the next few years, which will hopefully act as a catalyst for additional, private sector investment too."
Work will now begin to prepare a business case for each project, with delivery of the projects to begin from April 2022.