'Amazing news': £13.7m crucial to town's rebirth
- Credit: Great Yarmouth Borough Council
An ambitious vision to transform a historic town centre has taken significant strides forward.
A £13.7m Boxing Day gift from the Government will see Great Yarmouth town centre revived as part of proposals for "a vibrant, economic, cultural and community hub".
Council leaders, an MP and tourism chiefs hailed the "amazing news" with the funding offer described as being critical to the regeneration of the town centre.
The vision, which features a number of proposals aimed at increasing footfall and rejuvenating the town, comes as Great Yarmouth Borough Council continue to progress "exciting plans" to relocate the town's library to a more central location - with the former Palmer’s store mooted earlier this year.
With the council submitting its bid for £20m from the government’s Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) in June as part of an "exciting £49.2m regeneration package", it also includes major improvements to the Market Place, 89 new homes being built to redevelop The Conge, the creation of a new heritage centre and funding for green initiatives.
Now as the council secured an offer of £13.7m investment from the government fund - equating to almost 70 per cent of its £19.9m bid - towards revamping its town centre they will top that up to deliver the £49.2m vision.
The Boxing Day funding boost saw the coastal town as the only area in Norfolk to receive the provisional funding.
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Three other areas in East Anglia - Northampton, March High Street and St Neots - are to receive a share of £830m for what the Government says will transform their high streets into vibrant hubs for future generations.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced on Saturday that the funding is to be invested in 72 areas across England.
Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said: "This is fantastic news for Great Yarmouth as £13.77 million is announced for regenerating our town as part of the Future High Streets Fund."
The vision to transform and revive the historic town centre as a community hub "at the heart of our borough" was welcomed by the leaders of the council's main political groups.
Carl Smith and Trevor Wainwright said: "Significant Government funding is critical to delivering such transformative change for our town centre, as part of our regeneration vision for the wider borough, and we are delighted to have secured an offer of nearly 70 per cent of the money we asked for from this competitive national pot, which is a huge achievement.
"We deliberately made our vision scalable for different outcomes and the council has already fully-funded the crucial Market Place redevelopment, with phase one of construction due to start in 2021."
Also hailing the successful funding boost, the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area admitted it was "amazing news."
The leaders of the council's main political groups added: "This is great news for our borough and it's needed more than ever, as we look forward to continuing to invest in the regeneration and recovery of our place into 2021, with the prospect of further investment through our complementary bid for a Town Deal.
"This positive announcement reflects considerable work with our partners to put together a strong and exciting bid to the Future High Streets Fund, seeking to help make our town centre sustainable into the future with a wider range of uses and making the most of Great Yarmouth's special strengths, including its cultural heritage and visitor economy."
Building upon the Town Centre Masterplan and significant highways improvements, the council's vision also includes bringing empty buildings back into use with the residential conversion of a number of historic properties in the Market Place and King Street areas, while making more of the borough's rich heritage.
The council is continuing to work with Norfolk County Council's libraries service as part of the "exciting plans" as it explores opportunities to relocate the library to a more central location - with talks continuing with the owners of the former Palmers building.
Back in June, as the borough council submitted its funding bid, county council leader, Andrew Proctor, welcomed the "bold proposal" adding "relocating our library could help even more people as well as playing a crucial role in the future transformation of Great Yarmouth's town centre."