Historic England tours town where it's spending £1.2m

Historic England visits Great Yarmouth

Heritage organisations toured Great Yarmouth's Heritage Action Zone taking in King Street. It was the first time many had met in person since the start of the pandemic. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

It was some of the most unloved and tatty buildings that caught the eye of heritage funders on a walking tour of Great Yarmouth.

Where they saw scaffolding, they saw investment and improvement as they visited buildings set to benefit from heritage restoration projects worth millions.

Historic England visits Great Yarmouth

Competed restoration projects and those in the pipeline in Great Yarmouth were visited by heritage funders like Historic England who have pledged money to bring old buildings back to life. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Lead by Darren Barker, project director of Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, the large  group comprising Historic England commissioners, lottery funders and local stakeholders got to see for themselves where their money was going.

Great Yarmouth is one of 90 areas handed Heritage Action Zone status by the Government's heritage wing.

Historic England tour Great Yarmouth

Council leader Carl Smith and Historic England chairman Sir Laurie Magnus outside 145 King Street which is ripe for renovation. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

And on Tuesday those involved were meeting for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

Sir Laurie Magnus, chair of Historic England, said he was excited to see everything working so well in Yarmouth which had a good track record for rescuing historic buildings and finding new sustainable uses.

"There is a fantastic history here and it is great to see the work that is being done in terms of bringing buildings back to life.

Historic England

Darren Barker, project director for Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, explaining some of the changes in King Street. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"We have some money and can help with research and advice, but the most important thing is getting people  to work together - and when that happens I get really excited.

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"There is always more that can be done, historic buildings are expensive to maintain.

Historic England visits Great Yarmouth

The former Greenwoods store in Great Yarmouth is being reinvented as a heritage centre. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"The important thing we are doing here in the Heritage Action Zone is finding new uses for these buildings to give them a future."

The group visited the Winter Gardens where lottery funding has guaranteed a new lease of life for the building under a £16m restoration.

They were told about the South East Tower's conversion into a holiday let and stopped to look at 145 King Street, the former Church Rooms which have been purchased by Great Yarmouth Borough Council for the preservation trust.

Walking along King Street they stopped to see the former Greenwoods, earmarked as a heritage centre before going to the Market Pace and seeing the changes there.

Council leader Carl Smith said the aim was to put the "great back into Great Yarmouth" encouraging investment and leaving a legacy for the future.