Drill Hall in arts bid

A LISTED hall in Great Yarmouth used for community sports but facing an uncertain future could become part of the St George’s Chapel theatre project.

At a meeting on Tuesday, current users of the York Road Drill Hall heard that Seachange Arts had put in an outline proposal to use the building to expand its arts-based services and provide administrative and storage space for the multi-million pound scheme.

However, chief executive Joe Mackintosh reassured those present that the plans were not incompatible with the aims of the sports groups.

The meeting was held at the neighbourhood centre on King Street by users of the hall including Club 88 and Herois Do Mar. It follows a warning from owners Norfolk County Council stating that, though a decision had yet to be made, an alternative venue may have to be sought after April.

Afterwards, Mr Mackintosh explained Seachange Arts had been working with St George’s Theatre Trust on the idea, which could involve a lease arrangement or asset transfer. He emphasised that Seachange Arts, which acts as the borough council’s arts development arm, had been heavily involved with plans for the chapel and said: “It’s near to the St George’s site, and certainly for us we’re getting to the point where we need more space to work in. There’s no big conflict between what we want to do and future sports use.”

So far the proposal is one of a number being considered, and Seachange Arts hope to hear if they are in the running by the end of the month.

Also present at the meeting was Ann Keable, treasurer of Club 88, which has over 100 members. She said the main aim was to maintain the Drill Hall’s current sports capacity, whether this involved it being run by a coalition of present users or working alongside others like Seachange Arts.

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“We’re forming a committee and will be writing to the council. We just want cast iron assurances that we will be able to continue our use of the premises.”