December 20 2013 Latest news:
Dominic Bareham, senior reporter
Friday, January 25, 2013
Councillors raised concerns about plans to revamp a Norfolk town’s grade II listed arts venue to provide a new foyer, box office and gallery as part of major improvements to the building for a heritage project.
The Diss Corn Hall is being earmarked for the work as part of the Heritage Triangle Project (HTP) which aims to regenerate the area around St Nicholas Street and Market Hill.
But councillors were worried the hall could be extended to occupy some of the existing car park once the refurbishment work began, which could have an effect on emergency vehicles getting into the site.
Cllr Tony Palmer said: “I think the basic concepts are good, but I think the basic aspect of entering into the car park area needs to be reconsidered.”
Project manager Sheila King said the plans were very much at the idea stage and there were no concrete plans as yet, but a section built in the 1970s close to the hall’s Stables Gallery could be revamped to provide the new facilities because at the moment the newer part did not fit in well with the overall historic character of the building.
She said the design of the revamp to the 1970s section, which includes the Diss Town Council chamber, a kitchen and recently-refurbished toilets, would be sympathetic to the hall’s structure.
However, the Corn Hall project, which was discussed by the town council last Wednesday, is dependent on the Diss Heritage Partnership securing £1.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the overall HTP scheme.
The partnership has already cleared the first hurdle in its bid to secure the money by receiving £60,900 to pay for detailed plans to be drawn up in time to be submitted in the autumn for the full £1.5m.
As well as the foyer, box office and gallery the refurbishment will include improved disabled access facilities to the rooms on the second floor, possibly to include a lift and extra catering facilities.
Mrs King said: “It is really about trying to breathe new life into the Corn Hall by updating its facilities.”