Council considered handing King’s Lynn Guildhall of St George back to National Trust
PUBLISHED: 14:45 18 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:45 18 January 2018
Officials considered handing King’s Lynn’s historic medieval guildhall back to the National Trust, it emerged today.
Councillors have been meeting behind closed doors to be updated on plans for the future of the 15th Century Guildhall of St George, in King’s Lynn.
The complex, on King Street, has been run as a “hall for hire” since Lynn Arts Centre closed down two years ago.
Four options were considered. Councillors heard handing it back to the National Trust, from which the council leases the guidhall would require “a multi-million pound capital payment” to cover the remaining 33 years of the lease.
They were told mothballing the facilities would require replacement of the roof and significant capital investment just to maintain the building.
And they heard continuing the current operation on top of repair works would require “significant work” to the Guildhall auditorium including replacement seating and equipment.
Councillors decided on option four – exploring a new plan for the site including the White Barn and offices.
A working group is now being set up to look at ways of attracting external funding for the building.
Elizabeth Nockolds, the council’s cabinet member for culture, said: “We had a long and healthy debate about the challenges we face with the Guildhall complex. The site itself comprises several different elements including the theatre, gallery, White Barn, Shakespeare Barn and offices. The main theatre area is in dire need of maintenance and improvement work to make it fit for purpose. Over the years, some repair work has been undertaken but now several hundred thousand pounds of work would be required just to keep the building in an appropriate state of repair. The cost would be even higher to bring it up to a modern operational standard.”
The Guildhall of St George housed the King’s Lynn Arts Centre until it closed in early 2016.
Since then the theatre and galleries at the King Street site have operated on a for hire basis.
The complex is owned by the National Trust, which leases it to West Norfolk council.
Late last year, the council submitted a bid for £2.7m in lottery funding to regenerate the site. But lottery officials turned it down, saying it wasn’t sustainable.