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New vision for transformation of town’s riverfront and historic building unveiled

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New proposals have revealed how a historic building and a vacant riverfront site in Lynn could be transformed into an “enhanced” public space – with potential for a hidden garden, an area for pop-up events and dryside facilities.Residents are being invited to share their views on the vision that could breathe new life into the Custom House, which would bring it back into use as a multi-purpose public building that would be “visible, active and welcoming to all”.People are also being asked for feedback and ideas that will help to shape a programme of future events and activities that will encourage more use of the riverfront.

The proposals would transform the riverfront in Lynn. Picture: Graeme Massie Architects
The plans would enhance the Custom House and the surrounding Purfleet Quay area. Picture: Graeme Massie Architects

The outline designs have been developed as part of the King’s Lynn Town Deal riverfront regeneration project – after Lynn was awarded £25million in funding from the Towns Fund in 2021.Council officials say that these would seek to respect the heritage of the Custom House – built by Henry Bell in 1683 as a merchants’ exchange – and offer flexible space that could include various uses, including for hospitality, exhibitions and events.The visuals for the building also aim to reinterpret Bell’s ground floor plan with the addition of glazed panels.

The plans could see new glazed panels inserted within the stone arcades of the Custom House. Picture: Graeme Massie Architects
These visuals give an idea of how the Custom House could be transformed. Picture: Graeme Massie Architects

Level access would also be added along with a new lift, meaning the building would become a more accessible space for people to visit.Meanwhile, the proposals introduce potential designs for a vacant site next to Devil’s Alley which could be revitalised as a public space.The designs showcase a pergola running along the edges of the site, open and covered spaces, soft landscaping, as well as a children’s play area and a hidden garden.The Devil’s Alley area could offer a range of uses, including events and activities such as pop-up cinemas and performances throughout the year, bringing more people to this part of the town.

A central event space could be created on the site next to Devil’s Alley. Picture: Graeme Massie Architects
The site next to Devil’s Alley could be enhanced with a flexible event space, a children’s play area and a hidden garden. Picture: Graeme Massie Architects

New dryside facilities could be incorporated into the vacant annex building of the Sommerfeld and Thomas Warehouse on South Quay – including toilets, changing rooms, a reading area, washing/drying facilities and accessible facilities.The designs, which have been shaped by previous consultations including an open event in the Custom House in 2022 and surveys, are now being shared for local people to give their feedback.Councillor Alistair Beales, cabinet member for business with the borough council, said that these proposals represented an opportunity to “maximise the potential of the riverfront” and create more reasons for people to spend time in this part of town.

The proposal at Devil’s Alley aims to draw people further down South Quay to Millfleet. Picture: Graeme Massie Architects

“We know from previous consultation how much people value the riverfront, and that there is a desire for more things to see and do here. These proposals aim to fulfil that aspiration,” he said.“It has been particularly important to come up with ideas to revitalise the Custom House in these proposals as we fully appreciate and recognise the significance of this building for the town.“I would encourage people to take a look at the designs and share your views, and help to shape the future of the riverfront.”From today until Friday, February 16, the designs will be available to view online at https://www.visionkingslynn.co.uk/projects/riverfront-regeneration/#consultation.There is also a survey where people can share their thoughts at https://online.west-norfolk.gov.uk/rivreg/sncic_riverfront_regeneration_survey.htmThe public is invited to attend a drop-in session that will be taking place at the Custom House from 11am–7pm on Thursday.At this event, visitors will be able to view the proposals and share their feedback in the survey.Andrew Stevenson, King’s Lynn Town Deal Board’s champion for the riverfront regeneration project, said: “The proposals set out to revitalise King’s Lynn’s riverfront in a way that is respectful of and sensitive to the local heritage.“We want to draw more people to this area, and through new, enhanced, and attractive facilities, as well as a diverse range of activities, and events, this area has the potential to offer something for everyone.“We look forward to hearing the feedback from the public, and finding out their views on the proposals.”The rejuvenation of the Custom House and the vacant site next to Devil’s Alley would be complemented by a programme of activities and events which would also serve to drive footfall to this area.In the survey, people are being asked to help shape these by also giving their feedback on leisure activities in Lynn and ideas that would encourage them to visit the riverfront.The insight gained from the public will be complemented by feedback gathered from further consultation with stakeholders.This is the first phase of the regeneration of Lynn’s riverfront, which could pave the way for further investment and improvements in this area.

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