£25m town deal will fund brighter future
- Credit: Ian Burt
Queues of traffic, polluted air, a rundown waterfront and empty shops could soon be a thing of the past.
For after years on the drawing board and a string of disappointments, a town with centuries of maritime history is setting sail for a brighter future.
The money will pay for improvements including refurbishing the Ouse river frontage, the Guildhall of St George and the High Street. There will be new town centre homes and new uses for vacant shops, such as a community hub and indoor market.
A new one way system will help cut bottlenecks and traffic fumes, while new walking and cycling routes will offer Lynners an alternative to jumping in their cars.
There will be new training opportunities for young people to build the workforce of the future, including a nursing school which will open at the College of West Anglia in September.
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Skill levels are lower than average in Lynn, along with wages, while firms struggle to recruit suitably-qualified staff. Improving attainment is pivotal to boosting the town's economy.
Graham Purkins, chief technical officer of Lynn-based medical manufacturer Merxin, and chair of the town deal board which oversaw the bid, said: "We are delighted to receive notification that our King’s Lynn’s town investment plan submission has been successful.
"The collaborative working between the Town Deal Board and borough council in conjunction with valuable and constructive engagement with the local community enabled us to submit a strong proposal through which we have secured the maximum possible amount of funding. This is a significant achievement, and I would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work and commitment that has made it possible.
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"Last year we received a smaller amount through the Accelerated Towns Deal Funding which has enabled us to start improvements to our town centre and the initiation of a new School of Nursing in partnership with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the College of West Anglia. We are already making a difference.
"Receiving the Towns Fund money will now enable us to start the process of delivering the broader range of projects identified in our plan and help us all work towards a brighter and more prosperous future for King’s Lynn.”
The projects are split into four general themes: - economic productivity through urban regeneration, planning and land use; skills and enterprise; and infrastructure and connectivity.
West Norfolk council leader Stuart Dark said: "I am delighted that central government has recognised the need for this funding in King's Lynn and can see, through the strength of our bid and board, the clear benefit that can be realised here.
"We are awaiting the exact details of the next steps but are so pleased the exciting work of bringing the projects to fruition with partners, in consultation with stakeholders and the wider community, can now begin to start in earnest."
The bid sets out a timescale for projects, with work on most beginning next year after detailed costings have been agreed. It is hoped work on the South Gate and Guildhall could be completed by 2024.
North West Norfolk MP James Wild said the money would boost skills, improve the town centre, promote Lynn's Shakespearean links and heritage, and support new and growing businesses.
“With funding already secured for a new School of Nursing Studies, North West Norfolk is really benefitting from the government’s commitment to spread opportunity and level up," he said.
“I now look forward to helping deliver these ambitious plans as part of the Towns Fund board and making Lynn an even better place to live, work, and visit."