Work to revive Yarmouth Art College begins

IT has stood derelict for years, but now work is under way to turn an abandoned Great Yarmouth architectural treasure into affordable housing.

The Grade II listed former art college overlooks St George’s Park and was built nearly a century ago but became an eyesore and drugs den after closing in 1996.

However, blackboards have been cleared out, pigeons shooed away and “soft-stripping” completed as part of a �2m plan to create 18 flats.

Over the past month, Lowestoft’s Wellington Construction has prepared the site for internal works, expected take just over 12 months, for Peddars Way Housing Association.

Paul Ollington is managing director at Wellington Construction. He said: “We’re excited to actually be starting to get the building back together. People will see very little happen on the outside over the next few months as it will all be internal, as we install flooring, electronics and form the flats.”

The work comes after eight years and is the third application by the firm, which has been working closely alongside planning officers and borough council conservation officer Darren Barker.

New floors will be installed into the building’s high ceiling rooms for the housing, which consists of seven two bedroom flats and 11 one bedroom flats.

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Designed by John William Cockrill in 1912, it has long been recognised as a fine example of the Edwardian baroque style.

And it was after being registered as a building at risk that planning permission for the work was granted in July and funding made available from the Homes and Community Agency.

Mr Ollington said that the structure of the building was “sound” before adding: “It is a mix of masonry and timber rebuild internally, and we’re concentrating on maintaining the character of the building.

“As a part of that we will be retaining things like the staircase, the glazed lanterns and the old railings, which have gone away to be repaired, and work is progressing on schedule at the moment.”

Site manager Jaime Tennant noticed that there had been a buzz in the community about the works as he and his team cleared the site.

“Plenty of people have had a chat as they’ve passed by and been pleased work’s started and said that it was about time something was done” he added.