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Consultation warning over King’s Lynn Town Deal proposals

todayAugust 24, 2021

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Heritage campaigners have called for greater consultation on schemes which could form part of the multi-million pound regeneration ofLynn.

Council chiefs will hold a special meeting this afternoon to consider priorities for how a long-awaited £25 million Town Deal package from the Government should be spent.

Relocation of the town’s main library and the development of an active travel hub in the Nar Ouse Enterprise Zone are among officials’ proposals.

King's Lynn Library.
King’s Lynn Library.

But Lynn’s Civic Society has warned that more needs to be done to ensure broader public support for the programme.

In a letter to members of the council’s ruling cabinet, society chairman Alison Gifford said the group welcomed the latest progress on the scheme as a whole.

But she added that, despite the group’s involvement in its development so far, there were “significant aspects of the current proposals” of which they knew nothing and which they felt had not been subject to extensive engagement.

She wrote: “This is disappointing – and we feel some of the projects being brought forward may not be considered priorities by the wider community.

“We feel it is essential that the shortlist of projects must provide long-term, sustainable benefits that the whole community can support and that can subsequently be further developed and improved upon.”

However, reports to be presented to today’s meeting say a revised consultation programme has been developed to “ensure ongoing involvement of members, residents, businesses and stakeholders”.

The group’s principal concern appears to centre on moving the town’s main library from the Carnegie building at the corner of London Road and Millfleet to a new multi-user community hub, for which the former Argos site has been identified as a preferred location.

Council leaders insist the current library building will not be sold off for housing and future use will be found to reflect its heritage.

But the society’s letter said: “Whereas we support the idea of repurposing or demolishing the Argos building, we are as yet unaware of any local resident support for the idea of either moving the library out of the existing building or creating a ‘community hub’.

“It is simply not something that anyone appears to see as a priority.”

The letter has welcomed the priority given to regeneration of the riverfront, though it does call for the Custom House to be re-opened and suggests development of prominent sites on the South Quay should be considered as separate schemes.

It also suggested other priorities for improved travel links such as a bridge over the rail line at the Tennyson Avenue level crossing.

But the society has joined arts campaigners in welcoming the planned commitment to regenerating the St George’ Guildhall.

The King Street site is set to be the subject of a new bid for Lottery funding later this year to help raise the estimated £9 million project costs.

Nearly £5 million has been pledged from the Town Deal pot to the scheme.

And the Civic Society said: “Our own consultation has suggested many people support this project as a priority scheme and it is clear it could become a cultural focal point for the town, with tourism benefits.”

Meanwhile, the Shakespeare’s Guildhall Trust has also pledged its support in a statement which is due to be released to members today.

It said: “Shakespeare’s Guildhall Trust welcomes the commitment of the Borough Council and Town Deal Board to the renovation of St George’s Guildhall.

“We also welcome the commitment that the Borough Council and Town Deal Board has made to work more closely with SGT to develop the detailed vision and business plan for the whole Guildhall complex.

“We are looking forward to playing a full and active role in the Guildhall Advisory Board so that the benefit of the experience of the SGT management team can be deployed throughout the development process.

“SGT has offered its full backing, resources and support to maintain and develop St George’s Guildhall in the short, medium and long term.”

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