Funding boost towards revitalisation of landmark town hall
- Credit: Mick Howes
Transformation of a historic town hall site has taken a "major step forward."
The grade II listed Town Hall in Lowestoft has been vacant and unoccupied since spring 2015.
But it looks set for a brighter future after receiving a new funding boost.
Almost 1,000 people in Lowestoft shared their thoughts last year on how a restored Town Hall could be used by the community - with a café, museum and heritage hub all mooted.
And as a scheme progresses to revitalise the landmark building, which has been owned by Lowestoft Town Council (LTC) since 2017, with a community focus, funding bids have been successful.
The town council has received initial support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) for the Town Hall.
A town council spokesman said: "This funding will assist the town council to progress its plans to renovate the Town Hall with provision for a compelling and innovative heritage hub, gallery space with a changing programme of exhibitions and events, wedding and reception venue with catering facilities, co-working space for sole traders and small businesses, a café, and additional community event space."
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Development funding of £166,870, made possible by National Lottery players, will fund preparatory work to help secure a full grant in the future.
The project is also being supported by a second grant from AHF of £65,000.
The town council will hold ‘Town Hall Take Over’ activities in collaboration with youngsters, who will co-design and create their own project on a heritage theme of their choice.
These grants come on the back of the £2m from the Towns Fund earmarked for the prominent landmark, which is located within the North Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone.
Additional investment has also been secured from Historic England to undertake a Conservation Management Plan to help the town council "care for, conserve, and manage" the Town Hall.
Mayor of Lowestoft, Alan Green, said: “This is the news we have all been waiting and hoping for.
"The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Architectural Heritage Fund have worked with and supported Lowestoft Town Council and partners to bring forward community and heritage centred plans.”
Gavin Richards, Programme Manager at the Architectural Heritage Fund, said: "Bringing the Town Hall back into use for the community is vital if Lowestoft town centre is to bounce back and thrive into the future.
"The AHF has been supporting the town council for the last few years to help achieve that
aim and this new investment is another major step forward.”
Craig Rivett, East Suffolk’ Council's cabinet member for Economic Development, said: "This funding moves the Town Hall a step closer to being fully restored, coming back into use and supporting the wider regeneration of the town.
"The Town Hall is a significant building in the North Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone and I am thrilled that the HAZ partnership has played a vital role in securing this investment and thanks to NLHF, Lottery Players and AHF for their support."
Edward James, historic places adviser at Historic England, said: “This is really great news, and is an exciting step forwards towards the full revitalisation of this important piece of Lowestoft’s heritage for Lowestoft’s community.”