Multi-million pound plans are afoot to return Great Yarmouth to its former glory.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council has set the wheels in motion of a £49m regeneration package designed to revive the town centre as a vibrant economic, cultural and community hub.
Part and parcel of that is the £19.9m application it has now submitted to the Government’s Future High Streets Fund.
Building upon the Town Centre Masterplan and significant highways improvements already made at key gateways, the ambition is to diversify the town centre’s offer and make the most of the borough’s rich heritage, in the process maximising the potential for tourism businesses.
By introducing more residential, cultural and leisure uses, bringing empty and often historic buildings back into play in the process, and improving the links between key gateways and the seafront, the council intends to make the most of the town centre for residents and visitors alike.
A new heritage centre and the burnishing of the main arrival points will help boost visitor footfall and spend.
The vision also includes relocating the well-used library to a larger building in a more central location, converting empty or under-used buildings into new homes, giving the go-ahead for new housing on The Conge and King Street and treating the Market Place to a facelift.
Councillors Carl Smith and Trevor Wainwright said sustainability was at the heart of the plans.
In a joint statement, the leaders of the council’s main political groups said: “Government funding is critical to delivering transformative change for our town centre.
“We have put together a robust business case and an exciting and cohesive vision for regeneration, including an enhanced library as a new leisure anchor.
“While all town centres face shrinking retail space and reduced footfall, successful places continually reinvent themselves, using their special strengths as a platform.”
The town centre plans dovetailed with other regeneration work and investment in the borough, including on the seafront, North Quay and Hall Quay, and would hopefully act as a catalyst for further investment. “These are exciting times for Great Yarmouth,” they added.
Great Yarmouth’s MP Brandon Lewis said: “The borough council is submitting a strong bid which would result in transformational change for the town centre and I would like to congratulate everyone involved in preparing it.
“As the Member of Parliament, I have no hesitation in backing this bid and will champion the cause in Westminster.”
The council expects to get an answer towards the end of the year.
The proposals include:
Enhanced library. The council is working with Norfolk County Council to explore opportunities to relocate the strong library offer to a more central location, with the potential to later attract even more people and possibly expand the facilities into a learning hub, working with local schools and colleges. Any library move will be subject to funding, public consultation and a suitable building being secured. Initial conversations are underway with the owners of the former Palmers building.
New homes. The council recently submitted a planning application to redevelop The Conge with 89 new homes, helping to meet local need for good quality housing and improving the entry point to the town centre for those coming in from the railway station. Match funding is being sought from the Future High Streets Fund.
The council is also seeking funding for residential conversion of a number of nigh-on empty historic buildings in the Market Place and King Street. In addition, funding is being sought to enable Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust to develop new contemporary houses on eight plots at the rear of King Street, which would also improve the street scene.
Market Place. Match funding is being sought from the Future High Streets Fund to redevelop the Market Place and a planning application has been submitted. The council wants to expand the size of the events space available and plant 50 flowering cherry trees around the car park, among other things.
Heritage centre. Supported by the council and part of the Future High Streets Fund bid, Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust has recently bought the empty former Greenwoods store with plans to convert it into a new heritage centre.
Low carbon and digital targets. In addition to targeted tree-planting, the council is seeking funding for other green measures, such as more electric vehicle charging points, future proofing public transport and increasing the use of digital technologies.