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£1m will help bring empty town centre shops back into use

PUBLISHED: 15:27 16 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:02 16 September 2019

King's Lynn is one of the four towns to be awarded transformational funding. Picture: Kristina McArthur, Borough Council of King's Lynn.

King's Lynn is one of the four towns to be awarded transformational funding. Picture: Kristina McArthur, Borough Council of King's Lynn.

Kristina McArthur, Borough Council of King's Lynn.

A £1m funding windfall will help bring empty shops back into use and get space above them used as living accommodation.

Next, in King's Lynn High Street, closed down last year  Picture: Chris BishopNext, in King's Lynn High Street, closed down last year Picture: Chris Bishop

King's Lynn has been awarded the money from a government scheme to breathe life back into our beleaguered high streets.

Some £95m is being invested across the country, with North Walsham, Swaffham, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft among the winners.

Graham Middleton, West Norfolk council's cabinet member for business development, said: "This is very exciting news for King's Lynn which links in with our other funding bids to encourage more use of the town centre and specifically the High Street and parts of Norfolk Street.

"We are looking forward to working with Historic England to develop our programme which includes enhancing the heritage buildings and public realm. Our aim is to create a thriving and active town centre by ensuring the use of the whole building with retail or commercial use and over-shop living.

A busy Lynn High Street long before the days of the internet  Picture: ArchantA busy Lynn High Street long before the days of the internet Picture: Archant

"Together with our Future High Street Fund bid and the work we have already achieved through the lottery-funded Townscape Heritage Initiative and our existing Heritage Action Zone, the future is looking very bright for our town centre."

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Some of the outline proposals within the bid include heritage led shop front improvements, over-shop living conversions, visitor and tourist opportunities and bringing vacant buildings back into use.

A full programme design will be put together by a local partnership board along with Historic England and the final funding should be confirmed in January 2020.

The new H&M is being built on the former Beales department store site, in the centre of the Vancouver Quarter in King's Lynn  Picrture: Chris BishopThe new H&M is being built on the former Beales department store site, in the centre of the Vancouver Quarter in King's Lynn Picrture: Chris Bishop

Lynn has also made it through to the next round of bidding for a share of the £675m Future High Streets Fund.

Mr Middleton said the council was working on a "compelling" business case including ambitious plans for the town.

Both come against a background of store closures as retail moves from the bricks and mortar high street to online.

Next, Mothercare and a host of smaller retailers have already decamped from Lynn.

International clothing retailer H&M may help stem the decline when its new anchor store opens in the Vancouver Quarter next month.

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