Major boost for Great Yarmouth cultural quarter plans

An �8m scheme to breathe fresh life into one of Yarmouth's most historic areas has finally been given the green light after agreement on the last tranche of funding.

An �8m scheme to breathe fresh life into one of Yarmouth's most historic areas has finally been given the green light after agreement on the last tranche of funding.

The East of England Development Agency (Eeda) yesterday confirmed it had earmarked a �1m grant for the ambitious plan to restore the town's grade-one listed St George's Chapel as a theatre and community centre and transform the surrounding area of King Street into a lively cultural quarter.

You may also want to watch:

The borough council, which announced the scheme last August, has already secured the rest of the funding from the government's Sea Change programme, targeted at struggling resorts, the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and Norfolk County Council.

Council director Peter Hardy, who is steering the project, said: 'After South Quay, King Street ranks as the most important street in Yarmouth. Nearly all of its buildings are listed and it represents an area of undisturbed history.

Most Read

'This decision by Eeda gives the final go-ahead for the project and we hope to start design work immediately. If all goes well, work could be under way before the end of the year and we would like to see St George's re-opening for public use by June 2011.'

Ahead of that, further discussion would be carried out with local traders who had responded positively to initial consultation concerning plans to turn St George's Plain into a 'visitor-friendly' square - parking spaces lost in the process would be replaced by making King Street and Deneside one-way.

The internationally-renowned, London-based Hopkins Architects practice is to be appointed to carry out design work for the repair and conversion of St George's and construction of a new pavilion to complement the chapel.

Mr Hardy said: 'It is important to restore the chapel in a way that keeps the light and airy feel that was intended - we do not want to compartmentalise the building.

'Apart from adding toilets and possibly a bar, it will be kept as a flexible, open space. That is why a pavilion will be built on the southern edge of the site to provide a caf� during the day and a wine bar in the evening.'

The chapel would provide space for a 320-seat theatre - similar on scale to The Playhouse in Norwich - that could also be used for other events such as dances and civic functions.

Mr Hardy said while funding was in place for all the core work, some funds still had to be found for the complementary �1.8m project to provide grant aid for repairs to listed buildings in King Street.

He said: 'We are looking at that as a four to five year project as its timing depends on the response and initiative of the property owners. A similar project we have run in Wellesley Road shows it really works, and we expect the same results in King Street.'

It is hoped the area will become a lively cultural area, building on its exciting mix of nationalities, with specialist shops and a diverse range of restaurants and bars.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter