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£8m heritage boost hope

PUBLISHED: 16:25 29 October 2008 | UPDATED: 12:08 03 July 2010

AN influential delegation of heritage experts today, Wednesday, gave a vote of confidence to an £8m plan to restore one of Yarmouth's most historic quarters.

AN influential delegation of heritage experts today, Wednesday, gave a vote of confidence to an £8m plan to restore one of Yarmouth's most historic quarters.

National board members from English Heritage and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe) toured the town's regeneration sites and took a close look at the King Street/St George's Chapel area, for which the borough council is proposing a major scheme to restore its faded splendour.

To fund the project which it hopes to begin in the Spring, the council has made a £4m bid to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport's Sea Change programme - a pot of cash earmarked for struggling seaside resorts - and is seeking a further £4m from other sources, including the East of England Development Agency.

Regional director of English Heritage Gregory Luton, who accompanied the tour, said the views of the two boards were an important factor in the government's funding decisions, so their enthusiasm for what they saw in Yarmouth could be seen as a positive boost.

He said: “One of the reasons we were attracted to the King Street scheme initially is that Yarmouth has a very good record in this sort of work.”

Although there were nearly twice as many applicants as grants available from Sea Change, he was “quite confident that Yarmouth has a good chance of success”.

Mr Luton said the board members were attracted by the underlying quality of buildings in King Street, including St George's Chapel, and could see how that quality would be made much more visible by the regeneration project.

His view was echoed by English Heritage board member Gilly Drummond who said: “This is a really exciting opportunity. King Street has got a bit scruffy and this scheme would bring it up and make it a lovely place to be.”

Public consultation has been carried out to determine how best to restore the listed 18th century St George's Chapel as a flexible arts and cultural venue.

The council's plan embraces the restoration of King Street's 18th century merchant houses and the transformation of the area into an attractive quarter with galleries, artists' residences, street cafes and specialist shops.

It will learn if it has been successful in its funding bids early in the new year.

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