Flagship 'levelling up' project for King's Lynn is launched

The former Argos building in the Vancouver Centre in King's Lynn has been identified as the preferred site.

The former Argos building in the Vancouver Centre in King's Lynn has been identified as the preferred site for the proposed multi-user community hub. - Credit: Chris Bishop

A multi-million pound community hub is to be built in the heart of King's Lynn, as part of a 'levelling up' scheme to transform the town.

The new site, which will include a community centre and a library, will be the 'flagship facility' of a £25m project designed to regenerate the area.

The preferred site for the new hub is the former Argos building in the Vancouver Quarter, although other options may yet be considered. Whether the building will be converted or knocked down and rebuilt is also still to be decided.

The hub is the centrepiece of eight 'levelling up' projects which are planned for the town, as part of the King's Lynn Town Fund Deal. Others include the regeneration of the riverfront and development of St George's Guildhall.

Funding for the schemes is coming from Norfolk County Council and from the government's Towns Fund, which is providing cash for regeneration projects in 101 communities across the country as part of its 'levelling up' agenda. Funds are released once a business case has been agreed. The deadline for this is June 2022.

Views of King's Lynn taken from the North Tower of The Minster. Picture: Ian Burt

King's Lynn will be transformed by a town deal with the government which will bring in £25m in regeneration funding - Credit: Ian Burt

Launching plans for the hub, Graham Purkins, chair of the Town Deal Board, said: "It can provide a one-stop shop for services that people want and need in the town.

“Whilst we have an outline proposal for the hub, we need the community to help us to shape and determine the detail of what the space will offer.

The former Argos building in the centre of King's Lynn is the proposed preferred location for the hub.

The former Argos building in the centre of King's Lynn is the proposed preferred location for the hub. - Credit: Chris Bishop

"This is such an exciting opportunity to bring a modern facility to King’s Lynn, and one that will benefit the community significantly, now and in the years to come.”

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Total investment for the project is estimated to cost £6.36 million, with £4.36m of funding coming from the Town Deal and £2m from NCC.

Consultation on what services the facility should offer started on Wednesday and people are being invited to have their say.

Some of the facilities it could offer include a space for employment support, careers and skills advice, business support, community and voluntary resources.

Councillors and officers from NCC and West Norfolk Council (WNC) said the project will also include moving the library and adult learning into the building to allow "improved and accessible services which meet the needs of the community all in one place".

They said four to five sites had been considered and that the Argos building was the preferred choice as others were "too small", but will reconsider if the consultation highlights a better site.

It has not yet been decided if the current building will be used, if it will be rebuilt or if a hybrid of the two will be used.

Lynn High Street

Vision King's Lynn is pledging to 'green' King's Lynn town centre as part of its £25m town deal - Credit: Chris Bishop

Meanwhile, the council also addressed 'rumours' over the future use of the Carnegie building, where the current library is, stressing "it will not be turned into flats" and any future use "will recognise and respect the heritage" of the building.

Graham Plant, deputy leader for NCC, said: “We know how much people value the Carnegie building – as do we too.

Graham Plant, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Graham Plant, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council. Picture: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

“We would also like to confirm that we will continue to care for and curate the historic book collections currently kept in the existing library, connecting the community with local history.

“We don’t have any firm plans for the future use of the Carnegie building and we want the community to help us to identify possible options for the building, and also tell us what they would like to see in a new community and learning hub for the town."

Graham Middleton, deputy leader for WNC, said: “The hub will offer another reason for people to visit the town centre, and it will be located within easy reach of local amenities, shops, and transport links."

Graham Middleton, Conservative candidate for Gayton and Nar Valley. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Graham Middleton, WNC deputy leader and cabinet member for business, culture and heritage. - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

The final business case will be shaped by feedback from public consultation.

A survey is open until 5pm on Wednesday, December 22. To have your say visit www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FZL85TR

Hard copies are also available in the King's Lynn library and drop-in sessions to hear people's views will be held on December 9 at the events office on the Tuesday Market Place from 12pm to 2pm, December 11 at the King's Lynn Library from 10am to 12pm, the events office at 2pm to 4pm, and December 16 at the library from 10am to 12pm.

Those taking part can enter a prize draw to win £100 in shopping vouchers.

Surveys reveal frustrations of young people in the town

A survey carried out by the Town Deal Board revealed that 37pc of 16-25 year olds felt they could not fulfil their aspirations in King's Lynn. The poll also revealed a desire for more work experience and job opportunities for graduates.

Young people who took part said they would like to see more sports and leisure facilities and a designated space of their own.

The study saw 167 young people give their views and facilities such as trampolining, adult soft play and indoor go karting were among those suggested.

Another survey for businesses and potential traders showed an interest in pop-up spaces in King's Lynn that could help business grow.

The survey, which received 104 responses, revealed the lack of space was "a barrier to business growth" and traders were interested in flexibility around pop-up spaces.

Vicky Etheridge, BID manager, said the consultation confirmed that having an affordable space for pop-ups could be valuable for traders.

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