Historic town hall could get £3.5m makeover

Lowestoft town hall on the High Street. Picture: Mick Howes

Lowestoft town hall on the High Street. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

Wedding ceremonies and receptions, exhibitions, craft markets, live music, conferences and events are just some of the ideas proposed as part of a £3.5m transformation of a historic town hall site.

Lowestoft town hall on the High Street. Picture: Mick Howes

Lowestoft town hall on the High Street. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

The grade II listed Town Hall in Lowestoft has been vacant and unoccupied since spring 2015.

But it could now be set for a brighter future as options for the future development of the High Street site are explored following a Historic England-commissioned report.

The 141-page report - entitled 'Options for Lowestoft Town Hall and Adjacent Sites' - explores the revitalisation of the Town Hall, owned by Lowestoft Town Council (LTC), as it recommends a creative industries hub be establised within the historic building.

As part of the Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone, Colliers International were commissioned to assess options for the use of Lowestoft Town Hall and the vacant land behind it, which is owned by East Suffolk Council.

It states: 'The Town Hall is an attractive landmark in Lowestoft Old Town.

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'The cost of basic refurbishment to make it useable again is estimated to be about £2.7 million. Additional expenditure of £800,000 would pay for interventions that would make the most of the space.'

The report concludes: 'Our judgement is that the best use of the Town Hall would be as a combined activities and events centre and creative industries / artisan hub, as the flagship of an initiative to nurture a creative industries / artisanal cluster in the Old Town.

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'It would probably be optimal for the land immediately behind the Town Hall to be used (permanently) as a car park in support of this, with a section earmarked for a modern workshops building at a later time.'

Standing prominently on Lowestoft High Street, the town hall opened in 1857. It is the most prominent architectural landmark in the historic old town.

With the proposed restoration of the Town Hall site aiming 'to challenge the dilapidated image' of the old town, the next stage of development is to seek funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund for detailed project development work.

Ahead of that, a Lowestoft Town Council spokesman said: 'The town council will be running two information events to which all are invited to attend and find out more about the suggestions contained within the report.'

These take place this Friday, March 13 from 3pm to 5pm and from 6pm to 8pm at the town council chamber at Hamilton House.

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