Yarmouth’s old Art College gets new lease of life as homes

AFTER a century of history, decades of waste and a year of hard work, it marked a fresh new beginning for both a Great Yarmouth landmark and the families which are newly housed within its walls.

The town’s Old Art College was officially opened following a redevelopment effort that has transformed it from a decrepit squat into a beacon social housing project.

Last Thursday’s ribbon cutting drew tenants, councillors and involved parties alike to celebrate the 18 new flats which have been created as part of a �2m project to bring the Trafalgar Road Grade II building back into use.

In a speech marking the opening, the borough’s mayor Barry Coleman looked back a decade to a time when a number of historic buildings like the Art College were under threat and which have now been preserved.

“This particular building has been one that was especially difficult to get the funding together and get the use of,” he said.

“It was considered to be an eyesore for a long period of time so I am delighted to be here today, and I am excited that it has been brought back for use in the 21st century for housing people.

“We all know the problems of getting housing schemes off the ground and know the difficulty that people have on getting on the property ladder.”

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A year of work on the site by Lowestoft’s Wellington Construction saw up to 30 workers renovating and restoring the building, which is nearly a century old but became a drugs den after closing in the nineties.

One of those to have taken advantage of the spacious new flats, which include five two-bed and 13 one-bed flats, was Rebecca Evans.

She lives in a two floor space with a view over St George’s Park with boyfriend Liam Wright and was full of praise for her new pad.

“It was hopeless before, as we were staying on the floor of Liam’s sister’s home. However we approached Great Yarmouth Borough Council and about two months ago we heard about here.”

She added: “It is a beautiful building inside and out and we are really happy but also quite nervous - it’s our first place together.

“They’ve done a really good job and it also feels safe too, plus it feels like home now we have our things in here.”

Flagship Housing Group are the region’s biggest provider of affordable homes and own the building.

Chairman Peter Lakey, who cut the ribbon alongside Mr Coleman, said: “To be able to bring this building back into use in the heart of the town is fantastic.

“I’ve seen one of the flats and it’s stunning, and it is wonderful when you can use an iconic building to bring social housing to a place like Great Yarmouth.

“Everyone knows the waiting list for social housing is enormous and we can never build enough but when you can build something as good as this it’s wonderful.”