‘A borough on the rise’ - Transformation of Great Yarmouth continues
- Credit: Nick Butcher
The future of Great Yarmouth is bright, according to council bosses leading the transformation charge in the borough.
From the Venetian Waterways to the town's train station, a number of extensive projects have transformed some of the popular and most important areas of Great Yarmouth.
As efforts to redevelop more places, like the Winter Gardens and Market Place, continue, council leader Graham Plant believes Great Yarmouth: 'is a borough on the rise.'
He said: 'This year has seen some really exciting developments and announcements for the area, which will support jobs and lives in our communities.
'There has been some exciting decisions about major investments in our borough, along with ambitious work and developments clearly happening on the ground, with a lot further to look forward to in 2019 and beyond, including the £120m Third River Crossing plus a new Water and Leisure Complex on the Golden Mile.
'These reflect huge national confidence in the area's prospects, plus the hard work of the borough council and its partners to maximise these opportunities for growth and investment. There is a real sense that our borough is seeing change for the better and we're very much on a roll.'
Sheila Oxtoby, the chief executive, echoed his call, saying these were 'exciting times.'
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She said: 'As England's offshore energy sector capital and Norfolk's top seaside destination, the borough – quite literally – has a sea of exciting opportunities and special assets, which we're working closely with our partners to make the most of, whether that's in our buoyant offshore energy and tourism sectors, or our cultural heritage.
'Significant investment and regeneration projects are taking place in and around the town centre, on the seafronts and around the Enterprise Zones and port, acting as catalysts for investment to drive forward the economy and enhance the borough as a place to live, work, visit and invest.
'While we can't expect everything to change overnight – and some changes take longer than others – we are working hard with partners to use all of the tools available to address social challenges and inequities through initiatives such as the introduction of the Selective Licensing Scheme that's due to go live next month.
'We ask for people's continued support and patience as we work with partners to unlock the full economic potential of the area.'
A refurbishment project for the town's Venetian Waterways on the seafront strives to restore them to their former glory.
Having become a tragic example of faded seaside glamour, the £2.75m project on the Grade II attraction has welcomed volunteers and professionals alike in their efforts.
The boating lake, which first opened in 1928, is receiving some much-needed repairs, while the Café Island, model boat club hut and weather shelters are being re-thatched.
Speaking when work began, project coordinator Alison Hall said: 'It is a really beautiful place and it deserves to be at its best.
'This is a chance for people to take part in their local history and take pride in it.'
The council-backed project aims to involve the community in enhancing and interpreting a unique community facility, tourist attraction and heritage asset, as well as supporting the local economy, boosting civic pride and providing people with meaningful opportunities to improve skills and access further training or employment.
Over the years, it has housed a ballroom, a roller-skating rink, an amusement arcade and even a German-style building.
Now, one of the town's most instantly recognisable buildings, the Winter Gardens cuts a derelict, disused and lonely figure on the seafront.
Yet Great Yarmouth Borough Council confirm they are continuing 'positive' discussions with the Heritage Lottery Fund over the Grade II* listed attractions and proactively seeking an investor to bring the site back into use.
The landmark has dominated the famous Golden Mile since 1904 and is of national significance.
The site closed in 2008 and has not been publically used for a decade.
It is hoped once a commercial investor is on board, the council will be able to prepare a stronger bid for lottery funding, having seen an £11.5m bid previously turned down.
Earlier this year, in a statement from the council, Graham Plant and Trevor Wainwright said: 'The Winter Gardens represents an exciting and rare opportunity to get involved in breathing new life into a rare-surviving historic icon of the British seaside.'
Although currently awash with Christmas lights and festive cheer, the appearance of Great Yarmouth's markets could be transformed, if redevelopment plans are funded.
Earlier this year, the borough council revealed proposals for the £2.7m revamp which would have seen 36 new single and double stall units installed.
The proposal was, however, met by fierce criticism from stallholders and, ultimately, the £1.5m funding bid to the Coastal Communities Fund was denied.
Yet the council continues to seek out other funding opportunities.
Cllr Plant said: 'We will continue to meet with stallholders to get an understanding of their individual needs so when the time is right we can press ahead with the redevelopment.'
A major redevelopment of Great Yarmouth's train station has provided a sense of arrival in the town, as part of the council's town centre masterplan.
Visitors to Great Yarmouth will now be treated to a smarter welcome following a major revamp of the town's train station forecourt worth £710,000.
It is hoped the redeveloped entrance and surrounding areas will help attract more visitors to the town centre.
The improvements include clearer pedestrian and cycle routes from the station through to the Vauxhall Bridge river crossing and town centre, clearer areas for taxi parking and improved lighting, seating and soft landscaping.
Other phases of the project include improvements to The Conge and North Quay, as well as a cycle link from the station to the market place.
The county council will continue its programme of improvements into 2018, including finalising the upgrades to the bus station.