Plans to transform historic theatre move forward with appointment of chief architect

Plans to transform a historic town theatre have taken another step forward after the appointment of a chief architect.

The multi-award-winning Haworth Tompkins firm has been announced as the team which will take on the St George’s Guildhall and Creative Hub project, which is part of the Lynn Town Deal programme.

Following an invitation to tender – which had the most expressions of interest West Norfolk Council has ever received – the architects were selected as the preferred bidder to develop the detailed design for the theatre, which Shakespeare himself is believed to have visited.

The Guildhall theatre in Lynn
The Guildhall theatre in Lynn

The borough council has secured more than £8million from the Government’s Town’s Fund, and hopes to use it to transform the Guildhall and its surrounding buildings into a “nationally important cultural heritage site at the heart of Lynn’s arts and culture scene”.

With more than 30 years of experience and 180 major awards under its belt, London-based Haworth Tompkins is set to now take charge of that transformation.

A borough council spokesperson said that the firm “pride themselves on the close attention they pay to individual places and cultural situations”.

Its portfolio includes work at the Battersea Arts Centre in London, the Bristol Old Vic and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane – also in London.

The council has said that stakeholder and community engagement and consultation will continue to take place throughout the development of the Guildhall project, which is due to be completed in 2026.

The Guildhall is the country’s oldest working theatre – but there has been some criticism of the way the borough council has handled the project.

Last year, some councillors voiced fears that funding rejections could prove damaging to the transformation plans.