Councillors to consider £25,000 one-off investment in Yarmouth’s Winter Gardens

The Winter Gardens in Great Yarmouth.Picture: James Bass

The Winter Gardens in Great Yarmouth.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

A report proposing that Great Yarmouth Borough Council invests £25,000 to help secure funding to repair and restore the historic Winter Gardens will be considered next week.

The borough council regained control of the Grade II*-listed seafront building in 2014, with ambitions to bring it back into use as a tourist attraction, and intends to make a multi-million-pound application in November to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

On Wednesday, September 7, the cross-party economic development committee will consider an officer's recommendation to agree the one-off investment in pre-application work to ensure the crucial stage one application to the HLF is comprehensive and robust.

Pre-application work would include a full structural survey, providing an up-to-date picture of the building's condition and repair costs, in addition to pre-business planning, a feasibility study and an appraisal of end use options, ensuring the proposed scheme is viable in the long-term. One of the options explored would be horticultural/botanical use.

The report comes in the same month that the borough council installed a colourful heritage exhibition around the iron and steel landmark, on South Beach Parade, with the aims of raising awareness of the borough's rich history and cultural heritage, while highlighting to residents, visitors and potential funders the authority's intention to repair and restore the icon.

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Cllr Barry Coleman, chairman of the economic development committee, said: 'The Winter Gardens are part of our rich cultural heritage and have the potential to be a special tourist attraction, supporting the economy and jobs by offering yet another reason to visit.

'As highlighted in the colourful heritage exhibition that's now on display around the building, the borough council has a medium- to long-term ambition to bring the Winter Gardens back into use, and work has been progressing behind the scenes.

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'This is a large-scale project requiring significant external funding. The officer's report emphasises that the Heritage Lottery Fund and other potential funders will expect a robust, comprehensive application, one that shows that the scheme is well thought through and viable in the long-term.

'The officer's proposal to support this is through a one-off investment in pre-application work, and it is for the cross-party economic development committee to consider whether or not to follow that approach.'

The Heritage Lottery Fund has a two-stage funding application process. If the stage one application is submitted in November, a decision is expected in March 2017. If successful, this would unlock funding to further develop the scheme, including the complete business planning.

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