Potential vision for new community hub to be revealed this month

Potential visions for the exterior of a new community hub and library in Lynn will be revealed this month.

Norfolk County Council is continuing with the development of plans for a Lynn Multi-Use Community Hub, which will be housed in the former Argos building on New Conduit Street.

When open, it will see library services transferred over from the Carnegie building on London Road – and is also planned to house other services. This hub is expected to launch in the summer of 2025.

An early sketch showing plans for the multi-use community hub in Lynn – two possible visions will be released to the public this month. Picture: Norfolk County Council
An early sketch showing plans for the multi-use community hub in Lynn – two possible visions will be released to the public this month. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Two possible visions of the exterior appearance of the building, which will be reworked as part of the project, will be put on display on November 8 and 17 from 10am-4pm.

Residents will be able to view them at The Place, in the Vancouver Quarter, where staff will be on hand to discuss the plans with members of the public.

A county council spokesperson said that the current stage of design is considering what materials can be used to create a “striking exterior” which is in keeping with the historic environment of the town.

Stone, brickwork and tiles are under consideration, with residents now being invited to provide feedback on which material they feel most suits the location. These materials are used elsewhere in Lynn on buildings such as the Customs House, Guildhall, and Post Office.

Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, county council cabinet member for communities and partnerships, said: “Bringing the former Argos store back into use, and as a key hub for community services, is an important step in keeping Lynn town centre a vibrant and prosperous place, but it’s equally vital that the new hub contributes to the town visually as well.

“The teams have started drafting the new designs, but we want local people to get involved with this and give us their views on how they think the town centre should look.

“We intend to use historic and sustainable materials to create the new look for Conduit Street.

“I want to encourage everyone who visits the town centre to ‘take a look’ and give us their thoughts on this, to enable us to design a building that is in keeping with the future needs and desires of local people.”

The county council has also reiterated that it is committed to maintaining the current site at the Carnegie building for community use, as reported by the Lynn News in September.

Work is under way to identify the most appropriate use of the building for this purpose in time for the relocation of the library when the new hub opens.

As well as library services, the hub is planned to host meeting places for groups and community organisations, workspaces, and adult learning facilities. It will also allow career and employability support to be provided.

The project will result in £12.4million being invested in the hub, and is being funded by £7.4million from the Lynn Town Deal Fund alongside £5million from Norfolk County Council.

Rt Revd Dr Jane Steen, Bishop of Lynn, a member of the Town Deal board and a project champion for the hub, said: “The plans for this new hub are great news for Lynn’s town centre.

“But if this to be an integral part of the community and our town, it must be a building to be proud of. That means a building that is in keeping with the best of what’s already there, bringing out the best for Lynn.

“By getting in touch and telling us what you think of the different materials and concepts, you can play a part in bringing something new to the town that preserves and builds upon what we already love about Lynn.”

The proposals for the building will be available online at www.norfolk.gov.uk/newcommunityhubs

As part of their feedback, residents and service users have been invited to discuss how they would hope to use the building and its facilities, to influence the design work on the interior areas.

These options have been created by Mace, an international consultancy and construction firm which was appointed earlier this year, and the county council design team, with both aiming to work with a “focus on embedding sustainability throughout the project”.

The teams are looking to produce a low-carbon building by both limiting the amount of carbon produced by retaining and using elements of the existing structure and reducing the demand for energy and water consumption through the use of sustainable materials and interventions.

These could include a blue roof, which reuses captured rainwater, and electricity generating solar panels.

Cllr Lesley Bambridge, who represents Lynn North and Central on the county council, said: “It is good for residents to be able to see the proposed visuals so that they can get an idea of what this new, modern centre will look like and what it will provide and this is a chance for everyone to have a say.

“There will still be books which is an important part of the new centre, but there will be spaces available for learning and community activities.

“The state of the art building will link the old with the new and will enhance the area around Baxter’s Plain.”