A long-awaited revamp of Norwich's Wensum Lodge to turn it into the city's 'jewel in the crown' could be revived, council bosses have said.

But opposition councillors have called for an even more ambitious scheme for the beloved city site, including a new sports hall.

Eastern Daily Press: Wensum Lodge in NorwichWensum Lodge in Norwich (Image: Archant)

The King Street venue has been the base for Norfolk's adult education services for more than 40 years.

In 2019, bosses at Norfolk County Council unveiled proposals to transform it into a creative hub, with Hudson Architects commissioned to come up with a vision for the site.

A 'major cultural attraction', such as a costume gallery for the Victoria and Albert Museum, was mooted to be created in the Grade I-listed Music House.

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk County Council says it is still pursuing proposals to revamp Wensum LodgeNorfolk County Council says it is still pursuing proposals to revamp Wensum Lodge (Image: Hudson Architects)

Revamped rooms for adult education courses were put forward, along with rental space for start-up creative and arts organisations to bring in money to offset the centre's running costs.

Since then, amid the coronavirus pandemic and the council's need to make millions of pounds of savings, the scheme has fallen off the agenda. But it could be about to be revived.

A Norfolk County Council spokesperson said: "We are continuing to work on the plans for Wensum Lodge, a historic and complex building. An update report will be brought to cabinet later on in the year."

Eastern Daily Press: Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County CouncilSteve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council (Image: Archant)

But Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group, called for an even more ambitious scheme.

He said: "If the site, including the Music House and Wensum Lodge, was turned into a trust it could be developed as a proper arts and creative hub with lots of potential and even a small residential or hotel element to help support it.

"The sports hall has a limited life and I have long thought we should explore building a brand new replacement over the car park next to the swimming pool just across the river.

"It’s a big project, but if the city and county councils worked together, the benefits that would accrue – jobs, regeneration, homes, creativity, education, new sports facilities and protection of the historic buildings at the core, make it a compelling case for investment.

"Surely it is exactly the kind of scheme levelling up funding is designed for."


The complex of buildings, off King Street, include the Music House, which dates from the 12th century.

In the 1960s it was converted into an adult education centre by Norfolk County Council, with a sports hall built on the site at the same time.

As well as sports like badminton and squash, that hall even once boasted a ski slope - made of plastic ski matting, scaffold poles and wooden boxes.

That sports hall was closed in December 2010 after the county council claimed maintenance costs were too expensive to keep it open.

Eastern Daily Press: Wensum Lodge Sports HallWensum Lodge Sports Hall (Image: Nick Butcher)

But it was saved after a campaign group formed to take it over and the Wensum Sports Centre Charitable Association continues to run it today.

Eastern Daily Press: Jurnet's Bar at Wensum Lodge has closedJurnet's Bar at Wensum Lodge has closed (Image: Newsquest)

Meanwhile, adult education courses continue at Wensum Lodge, although the popular Jurnet's Bar, situated in a medieval crypt, closed in 2020.