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September start for arts centre

PUBLISHED: 09:34 30 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:53 03 July 2010

Dominic Bareham

PLANS to regenerate the most economically deprived neighbourhood in the eastern region have received a major boost with the confirmation diggers could be in place as early as September to begin work on St George's Theatre and King Street in Great Yarmouth.

PLANS to regenerate the most economically deprived neighbourhood in the eastern region have received a major boost with the confirmation diggers could be in place as early as September to begin work on St George's Theatre and King Street in Great Yarmouth.

Peter Hardy, the borough council's executive director for economy and environment, announced the expected start time for the £8m-plus scheme to repair and convert the dilapidated St George's Chapel to create a flexible arts centre and community hub at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday .

He told councillors he was confident the project's core plans would not be affected even though the council received only £3m of the £4m bid submitted to the government's Sea Change programme to provide £12m funding to regenerate coastal towns in England.

He added the reduced funding announced last week could be accommodated by making savings on the materials used in the streetworks.

The central project will be the transformation of the Grade I listed chapel- most recently used as a theatre- but the plans also include restoring King Street's 18th century merchant houses and remodelling the street and square surrounding the chapel to develop a vibrant cultural quarter with galleries, artists' residences, street cafes and specialist shops.

Derby-based architectural and urban design practice Lathams has been contracted to do the work and will be advising on the design and landscaping of surrounding streets and working on a £2m grant project to upgrade 50 other historical properties in the area.

The cabinet agreed to do its part for the regeneration work, which will include the creation of a contemporary pavilion, by approving a £750,000 grant from its own budget, as well as underwriting operating costs for the project estimated at £40,000 a year falling to £35,000 a year after five years.

However, the success of the scheme is dependent on the council receiving other grant applications from the Heritage Lottery Fund, East of England Development Agency (EEDA), Norfolk County Council and English Heritage.

The decisions of all the funders should be known by April 1 and the aim is to complete the refurbishment of the chapel by April 2011.

A report by Mr Hardy stated government indexes rated the King Street neighbourhood the most deprived in the eastern region.


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