A multi-million-pound bid that could transform King’s Lynn town centre has been submitted to the Government.
It comes as the Borough Council for King’s Lynn and West Norfolk – together with its partners - works to support the town’s recovery and renewal from the economic impact of Covid-19.
The submission for £21.6m in grant funding to the Future High Streets Fund comes after having been successful in an initial expression of interest in 2019. If successful in the competitive funding process, with match funding, the total investment in King’s Lynn town centre could be in the region of £35.5m.
The plans, which aim to tackle the town’s priorities and support its long-term future, have been informed by feedback from the public through community consultation last year, and developed in partnership with Norfolk County Council.
Commenting on the proposals, James said:
"This is a strong bid to enhance King's Lynn's Covid-19 recovery. A community hub with training and enterprise opportunities, new housing in the town centre, improving South Gate, and our Shakespeare heritage will support growth in North West Norfolk. I am pleased to have supported the development of this bid - now I'll champion it with ministers."
Councillor Graham Middleton, Cabinet Member for Business Development said: ““Our proposals support the sustainable long-term future of the town, which is now even more of a priority for us than ever. A successful bid would be part of our Covid-19 recovery plans for the town centre. “But we don’t just want King’s Lynn town centre to survive – we want it to thrive. Our submission would help the town to do just that.”
The projects highlighted in the submission are:
1. King’s Lynn Multi-User Community Hub
Working in partnership with Norfolk County Council, this would provide a modern shared community space in the heart of the town that brings together a range of services anchored by a relocated town library. In addition to increasing footfall, it would enhance training and skills provision in the town centre, providing a focal point for upskilling and accessing learning. It would be a multi-service hub, providing people with the space and resources to start up or engage in new activities and services.
2. Town Centre Housing Project
This project would provide in excess of 150 homes over a ten-year period, bringing more people to live in the town centre. Increasing the density of the in-town population would create greater sustainability, increase footfall, and expand use of the town centre. To facilitate the housing provision, this project would see land released from existing car parking space to provide the town centre homes.
With land from existing car parking space used for these much-needed new homes, an innovative sheltered car park would be constructed to provide spaces for town centre parking. This would incorporate green technology: namely photovoltaic panels connected to electric vehicle (EV) charging points.
3. St George’s Guildhall Refurbishment
This scheme would see the refurbishment of St George’s Guildhall, creating a new heritage and cultural attraction using the unique selling points of the oldest theatre in the UK and the Guildhall’s Shakespeare link. The refurbishment plans are based upon a recent feasibility study carried out in December 2019 by the Shakespeare Guildhall Trust and the council. This project provides King’s Lynn with the opportunity to create a new heritage attraction bringing increased numbers of visitors to the town.
4. South Gate Gateway
To improve traffic flow around the town, and to protect the historic entrance at South Gate as a visitor attraction, this project would focus on creating a highway diversion. The South Gate roundabout is a key gateway for the town and a bottleneck. This project would tackle this issue, creating better access.This project would also see public realm improvements, creating a more pleasant arrival and capitalising on the South Gate as a visitor attraction. It would also allow for improvements to London Road pedestrian crossings and traffic lights as well as pedestrian and cycle links, increasing the options for visiting town.
If successful, the Future High Streets funding would align with the Town Investment Plan. This is the town’s vision for its economic development over the years to come. This will potentially help the council to access a further £25m of Town Deal funding that has been allocated by the Government.
The submission was made to government on 22 June with a decision expected in the early autumn.