Think Tank boss hails Great Yarmouth town centre as 'a lovely place'

Nicholas Boys Smith is positive about the future of Great Yarmouth

Nicholas Boys Smith, author and founder and director of Create Streets, a social enterprise looking into links between place and good outcomes for people. He has hailed Great Yarmouth as "a lovely place" which will likely prosper again. - Credit: supplied by Nicholas Boys Smith

Great Yarmouth through the eyes of the outsider is a pretty stunning place to be.

Where locals may see a tumbleweed town of empty shops Nicholas Boys Smith sees prosperity and potential.

The director and founder of Create Streets and the co chair of the Government's Building Better, Building Beautiful commission hailed the town centre in a series of tweets following a visit at the end of last year.

King Street saw high levels of reported crime between April and August of this year. Picture: Liz Co

King Street saw high levels of reported crime between April and August of this year. Picture: Liz Coates - Credit: Archant

Praising the compact town centre with its density of "gorgeous and striking" old buildings he said the town's wealthy past was there for all to see, and that while Yarmouth, in common with other towns, had had "a tough time" it was still "a lovely place", brimming with economic opportunity.

The Preservation Trust's work rescuing old buildings and giving them a new, sustainable use helped maintain a town that was nice to look and live in, he said, making it ripe for reinvention.

"What was incredibly striking in Great Yarmouth was just how lovely it was," he said.

"It has had a tough time but it has an economic opportunity with offshore wind.

"It is just a lovely place and there is potential for that lovely high street to be far more vibrant, not just with shops but with services, offices, restaurants, cafes and homes.

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"The key thing for the council is to allow these units to be quite flexible and not to get too het up about what they become.

"You have some really gorgeous, striking buildings.

"The opportunity is there and the great advantage for Great Yarmouth is jobs from offshore wind."

Although Covid had plenty to answer for it had taught us we didn't always need to be physically close to work meaning towns could win back younger workers who had drained away to cities, he said.

In that context, Great Yarmouth with its tight, attractive townscape - he likened (while admitting it was a slightly "silly" analogy) to Venice in terms of historic buildings - was well-placed to bounce back.

"I am as certain as I can be that it will bustle again," he said.

"It will be a bit more about living and working there and once you have that some of the shops will come back."