Town Hall For Sale

Town HallLowestoft Town Hall, the Grade 11 listed building  which has served the town for over 150 years, is up  for sale.
Tory Council leader Colin Law wants suggestions  for its use, which he must then impose on the future  owners. His ideas include “business space, cultural  and heritage opportunities or residential units” to add to the earlier “small performance spaces”. The  estate agents, our good friends Norfolk Property  Services, say that “office and commercial uses  would be valuable in maintaining the number of  employees in the High Street during the day” (ie like  the present Town Hall?) and suggest workspaces for  small businesses and perhaps “the creative industries”. Local historian Ian Robb suggests either a  museum or a community centre.

Colin Law

Colin Law

Councillor Law wants “genuine, viable ideas for the  site”. Lowestoft Coalition against the Cuts argued that the building was viable as a Town Hall and was  essential in maintaining the viability of the High  Street. The Council refused to discuss the Town  Hall’s future when the decision to vacate it was  debated. How could councillors consent to such a  scheme with no idea of what to do with the building? Now they want us to tell them what to do with  it. It is adding insult to injury.
Are any of these ideas viable? The Town Hall and  two annexes are valued by our old friends Norfolk  Property Services at £310,000, with half a million  pounds of maintenance  needed on the Town Hall  alone over the next four years.  At a minimum, the Council  Chamber and the stained glass  windows have to be preserved. Who would spend a  million pounds on a listed site   to provide performance  spaces or a museum or a community centre or  “cultural and heritage opportunities”? Isn’t the  reality that the Town Hall will be sold to a property  developer for flats?
Waveney District Council breached planning laws  when it failed to conduct an impact assessment on  its Riverside Road scheme. The scheme involves  taking 500 jobs out of the town centre, including the  Town Hall staff. Questioned by LCAC the Council  replied: “This is being completed as part of the  wider work stream and will be considered in line  with the future of the town hall.” So where is it?  High Street traders should be asking questions.

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