Dominic Bareham, senior reporter
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Councillors spoke of their delight after a Norfolk town received initial funding as part of the first stage towards potentially securing £1.5m of lottery funding to regenerate an old part of the town.
Earlier this month, Diss Heritage Partnership received £60,900 of heritage lottery funding to develop plans to improve the Heritage Triangle area of the town in Market Hill and St Nicholas Street, which includes the Corn Hall, museum and St Nicholas Church.
Once the plans have been completed, an application will be made for a full Heritage Lottery grant between August and November 2013 and if the partnership is successful it could receive the rest of the £1,522,300.
The town’s mayor Graham Minshull told a town council meeting on Wednesday he regarded the decision to award initial funding as a boost for the town, adding: “It seems to me that the town is going up and up at the moment.”
Former Diss town councillor Glyn Walden said South Norfolk councillor Martin Wilby, who represents nearby Dickleburgh, had also expressed his delight at the decision.
Councillor Julian Mason also suggested a town councillor should be appointed to work with the partnership to help ease the workload in preparing the plans for the improvements to the Heritage Triangle.
Town clerk Deborah Sarson said she would discuss the suggestion with the partnership.
If all goes to plan, the restored Corn Hall and Heritage Triangle should be completed by mid-2015.
The extensive programme of work at the Corn Hall includes restoring the main hall and council chamber and creating a new foyer and box office. A gallery above will support heritage displays and operate as a resource/study centre in partnership with the museum.
In the old town, street landscaping will create “squares” and areas where visitors can enjoy the Mere and the range of historic buildings in Diss, which will be researched and their stories linked to the development of the town.
Information boards, downloadable digital audio theatre and street performance are also planned, plus opportunities for local people to help with historic research, learn how to maintain heritage buildings, or to work as “explainers” for visitors on open days and at events.