Have your say on future of Lowestoft Town Hall

Lowestoft Town Hall on the High Street.

Picture: James Bass Lowestoft Town Hall on the High Street. Picture: James Bass

Friday, June 13, 2014
6:30 AM

People in Lowestoft are being urged to give their views on the future of the town’s historic and landmark town hall

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Waveney District Council has today launched a consultation looking at possible future uses for the building once the authority moves out of it as part of the controversial £13.6m shared office project.

The consultation documents say the town hall site would be a “valuable” asset to the High Street area as business offices, while Colin Law, leader of Waveney, has raised the idea of it being turned into homes.

Mr Law has pledged that residents will have a say on the future of the town hall, which is a grade II listed building and dates back to 1857.

However, there are fears that the town’s important heritage could be affected as part of the council’s drive to find a sustainable and affordable future for the building.

Mr Law said: “The town hall is an important, historic building and we appreciate that there are people in the town with strong views and opinions about its future.

“Therefore it is absolutely vital that we give people every opportunity to express these views and to come up with genuine, viable ideas for the site.

“We have a clear responsibility to get this right and to manage the future of the town hall in a way that genuinely benefits the people of Waveney. This could be through the provision of business space, cultural and heritage opportunities or residential units.

“Either way, this will not simply be about the highest bidders, but about a legacy for Lowestoft and we are looking forward to speaking with imaginative and passionate people about this.”

Details of the town hall consultation have been placed on Waveney’s website today and people can have their say by attending three information events early next month.

Included in the documents is a statement by the council’s property consultants NPS, which suggests a number of options for the building while also stressing the importance of respecting and supporting surrounding businesses and communities.

The document refers to the need to contribute towards the continued vitality of the High Street once council staff move to the shared office block by Riverside Road by retaining footfall to the surrounding shops, services, restaurants and pubs.

It added: “Office and commercial uses would be valuable in maintaining the number of employees in the High Street area during the day when the council moves to new premises.

“Redevelopment and conversion of part of the site and buildings will provide a variety of employment and live-work opportunities for creative industries, which will complement the heritage environment and provide workspaces for small start-up businesses.”

Lowestoft Town Hall will be losing its council staff next year as Waveney and Suffolk County Council relocate hundred of staff from offices in the town to the shared office block off Riverside Road.

Construction work on the office project started in February.

Frank Joyce, of Lowestoft Coalition Against the Cuts, had lodged an appeal with the Local Government Ombudsman over the way Waveney had handled the planning process for the shared office blocks he wants the town hall to remain as council offices.

Mr Joyce lost his challenge but still wants the council to re-consider its decision on re-locating its offices to the Riverside Road site.

He said: “It was built as the town hall, it has served the community for more than one hundred and fifty years and it should stay as the town hall.”

Local historian Ian Robb, who lives in Gunton, “It is a important part of the town. I would like to see it turned in a museum or a community centre.”

The two councils say moving to the new purpose-built office block will help them save up to £3m of public money over 10 years by allowing them to dispose of the buildings which are deemed unfit for purpose for staff or are inefficient.

Frank Mortimer, Waveney’s cabinet member for customers and communities said: “We want the community to be involved in any plans right from the very start. The town hall has been a place that local people have used, visited and enjoyed and they should definitely get involved in answering questions about its future.

We look forward to hearing from them.”

■The public consultation events will take place at Lowestoft Town Hall next month and will see questionnaires for people to fill in handed out. The first event is a drop-in session in which anyone can attend on Friday, July 4 from 2pm to 5pm.

Two further consultation events will appointment only. They will be held between 9am to 5pm on Saturday, July 5 and from 5pm to 9pm on Thursday, July 10.

Anyone wishing to book an appointment should contact Waveney’s Active Communities Team on 01502 523354 or email activecommunities@eastsuffolk.gov.uk to make an appointment.

Anyone wanting a questionnaire can also contact the Active Communities Team to arrange one to be sent to them.

9 comments

  • WDC will do exactly as they please and to hell with the people of Lowestoft. I'm glad I have nothing more to do with that shower but feel sorry for the good people of the town,they deserve better.

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    kevin bacon

    Monday, June 16, 2014

  • I agree totally with Patricia 56 except the is not £3 million a year is £3 million possibly over a 10 year period. That is the Council's statement there has been no financial to back up the claim, indeed I have asked but my request has met with a blank.

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    Peter Colby

    Saturday, June 14, 2014

  • the town hall was built for the people of lowestoft & should remain for the people of lowestoft, it is a beautiful building,& landmark which we have few of now in lowestoft, it is obvious it was no longer good enough for the council, it is not modern, with air conditioning,nice views, comfy seats etc. but they say spending more money to build new offices, will save the tax payer £3 million a year. why not spend a fraction of the cost on updating the offices, no that is too simple for the council. i would like to see the town hall being put to good use for the people of lowestoft a community hall, with all the beautiful original features kept for generations to admire.

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    patricia56

    Saturday, June 14, 2014

  • After living in Lowestoft for a few months, I am dismayed on the support of the council for the town and local businesses. The town hall should reflect thee history of Lowestoft and not demolished. There are quite a few landmarks that have been lost to developments and the town hall should not be one of them. This should document the rich history that lowestoft has and reflect this by a living museum documenting the evolution and hopefully future visions for the town. I personally would like to see Swallows Nest park turned into an illuminated sculpture park that is funded by business contributions in return for concessions to street trading fees and business rates for the high street and london road north areas.

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    Kevin Tinsley

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • Peter Colby and the other correspondents on the issue are quite correct. Having wasted so much money on the SCC'WDC office development on the south quay when the old Town Hall building could have been expanded and developed is idiocy. All the waste sites and duff council property give the town an almost third world feel. When are this bunch of duffers going to learn. Well, they can began by not destroying the existing Town Hall and giving it a sympathetic re=development perhaps as high quality office accommodation. I am not holding my breath.

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    NorCas

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • Ditto previous 3 comments. The High Street has been steadily in decline for sometime now. I see Taylors are acquiring more and more properties which can't be a good thing. The abandonment by WDC from the Town Hall will be the final nail in the High Street "ghetto's" coffin Roll-on next May and finally pension off Cllr Law!!!

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    Brooke Yachts

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • Lowestoft town Hall was built to demonstrate the strength of character and prosperity of Lowestoft, it was built by people who were proud of the town and its achievements. To discard it now as the Council have done is absolute stupid, to move from the site to another site on the other side of the bascule bridge will not only cause more traffic chaos and simply waste more money. The way the building of the new officers on the southern side of Lake lothing has been fast tracked is almost immoral some £13.5 million plus is being squandered on this project when there was land available adjacent to the current town Hall where expansion could have occurred, if indeed we need expansion?. Whatever happens the town hall must be preserved and made to work for the benefit of Lowestoft not demolished for housing development or some Mickey Mouse scheme the Council dreams up to try and justify the decision to build the new centre. Which Councillor Law clearly sees as his legacy to the town.

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    Peter Colby

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • T Doff has said it all really. I note that Law is looking for "viable ideas for the site", not the building, so I think we all know which way this is going.

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    point du jour

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • As it's Waveney District Council, whatever happens with the the Town Hall will be a) the opposite of what the majority want b) costly for the community c) immensely stupid d) a nice earner for some private spivs e) wreathed in evasion and dishonesty.

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    T Doff

    Friday, June 13, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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