Council to splash £60k on ‘once in a lifetime’ bid for Winter Gardens fund
PUBLISHED: 18:05 19 May 2020 | UPDATED: 18:05 19 May 2020
A Norfolk council has voted to spend £60,000 preparing to bid for “fiercely competitive” funds to restore a “dangerous eyesore”.
Great Yarmouth’s “mouldering” Winter Gardens were revealed last year to be in danger of collapse.
And now Great Yarmouth Borough Council (GYBC) has reached the final stages of an application for funding to shore up the iconic seafront structure.
The National Heritage Lottery has selected the council as one of its final 11 applicants for the Heritage Horizons scheme, which will see restoration projects of between £5-10m granted 90pc matched funding.
But in order to compete in the process, which a council report called “fiercely competitive”, GYBC must pay for surveys, plans and legal fees to ensure its bid has the best chance of success.
Speaking at the first remote meeting of the council’s policy and resources committee - its cabinet - held on Tuesday, May 19, via Zoom, the head of inward investment, Michelle Burdett, told councillors: “It’s a funding opportunity to bring the building back into use. If we are successful at this stage, this will unlock up to 90pc matched funding for the development phase and the capital works at a later stage.”
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A report, published ahead of the meeting, said the Grade II* listed site was “a very rare surviving example of a seaside glass house” and “of national significance”.
But it also said the heritage asset was at risk, with a “decay mechanisms affecting the metal frame and the timber fenestration holding the glazing in place”.
The report added: “It is vacant and considered to be a dangerous structure. There is a reputational and safety risk to the council given the structure is both a danger and an eyesore.”
Council leader Carl Smith said: “It’s really good news that we got through to the next stage of bids.”
Deputy leader Graham Plant added: “I’m glad we’ve got some positive news about the Winter Gardens. The opportunity that’s come along is a once-in-a-lifetime and we have to take it up.”
Labour group leader Trevor Wainwright added that meetings of the working group needed to be held more frequently to move the project forward.
Councillors voted to allocate the £60,000 from asset management reserves to fund the bid process.
They also agreed to suspend council meetings aside from cabinet, planning and licensing for the duration of the pandemic.
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