Future of King’s Lynn’s Guildhall of St George will be discussed tonight

Ivor Rowlands outside the Guildhall. Picture: Chris Bishop

Ivor Rowlands outside the Guildhall. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

The future of a medieval guildhall will be discussed behind closed doors tonight.

King's Lynn's Guildhall of St George housed an arts centre until it closed in 2016. Since then, it has operated on a for hire basis.

The 15th Century building is owned by the National Trust, which leases it to West Norfolk council.

Its future has been uncertain since lottery officials turned down an application from the council for a £2.7m grant to regenerate the site last year.

MORE - fears for future of ancient guildhallThe council has set up an 'informal working group' to look at options for the site.

It has been speaking to regular users of the building to canvass their views. The group is due to report back to councillors on West Norfolk's regeneration panel tonight. But the press and public will be excluded from the discussion. A statement is expected later in the week.

Ivor Rowlands, of campaign group Lynn Arts, Culture and Heritage (LArCH), said: 'It's a great shame that the regeneration panel has decided to make the 40-minute guildhall agenda item exempt and so will be excluding the press and public from attending.

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'I would hope that all of the submissions that have been made to the informal working group by various interested parties will have been fairly summarised and reported to the regeneration panel so that they could be fully considered in their decision making process.

'I would like to see a new body be set up, including experienced and credible representatives from the wider community, and with full support and participation from the council, to put together a cohesive plan for the future use the guildhall complex as a viable and vibrant hub of artistic, cultural and heritage enterprise in and around King's Lynn.

'The first tasks of this group will be to construct a credible business plan, identify sources of funding and set about raising the necessary resources to put the plan into action.'

There have also been calls for more use to be made of the guildhall's unique connection to the River Ouse. It is the only building linking King Street, Lynn's most important medieval thoroughfare, with the river.

Ken Hill, from the King's Lynn Worfolk Boat Trust said if pontoons were built along the bank the trust's historic fishing vessel Baden Powell could pick up passengers at the guildhall.

'If the ferry landed there, its passengers would have a much improved footpath route through to King Street, with refreshments and toilets en route, and information and atmosphere to absorb on the way,' he said.

'There would be scope for a river festival. A new quay, pier or pontoons over the Arts Centre wall would be a natural step towards what King's Lynn really needs – a riverside walk connecting the South Quay and Purfleet Quay with Common Staithe Square.'