Plans for £71,000 revamp at King’s Lynn Corn Exchange

PUBLISHED: 12:44 23 October 2012

King's Lynn Corn Exchange.

King's Lynn Corn Exchange.

More than £70,000 could be spent improving facilities at King’s Lynn Corn Exchange in a bid to bring more money in.

West Norfolk Council will today (Tuesday) consider plans to invest £45,000 in a new bar, £16,000 upgrading the venue’s heating system and a further £10,000 in new furniture.

It is anticipated the revamp will increase bar and coffee shop profits by between 10 and 20pc through increased sales.

The council’s resources and performance panel has toured the Corn Exchange, in Tuesday Market Place, and been briefed on its overall financial health ahead of today’s meeting.

A report to the panel paints a positive picture of the venue, with increased ticket sales and total income rising from about £1.2m to nearly £1.5m over the last three years.

Bar and café profits also grew in that period, increasing from £110,501 to £138,023, but the report suggests the project will encourage more interval sales and help the bar to run more efficiently.

If the work goes ahead, the replacement bar will be longer and set further back, with drinks and glasses within easier reach of staff.

The number of tills will also be doubled to four and a dedicated area for customers ordering coffee is planned.

There will also be an extended line of products on sale and larger displays to tempt visitors, the report says.

“With new, slimmer bar furniture and more space to circulate, access to the bar will be much easier and service times improved,” it goes on.

“This will encourage more interval sales and encourage customers to use the service.

“The coffee house will also be relaunched with new menus and additional tables and seating at the front of the building. This will raise the profile of the coffee house and help to combat its poor location.

“Subject to the availability of funding, some refurbishment of the front of house and toilets will take place at the same time as the bar upgrade.”

Work on the redevelopment is scheduled to begin in August next year and will be paid for with a loan to be repaid over the next three to six years.

The Corn Exchange was built in 1854 and its stone facade is grade two listed. By the mid 1990s, the 738-seat venue was still used for community events but it was starting to deteriorate.

It was relaunched in 1996 following a £5m redevelopment funded in part by the National Lottery.

A brick rear extension was added to accommodate the back-of-house facilities including dressing rooms and offices, and moveable seating was installed so the layout of the venue could be altered for different types of performances.

The stage area was fully-equipped with lighting, sound and stage equipment, including a “fly” gallery enabling scenery and lighting to be flown in and out.

In the last three years, tickets sales have risen from 82,547 to 101,485 and the number of shows presented has risen by 25pc, despite the economic downturn.

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