The New Year sees the start of the next important stage of the Lowestoft Town Hall Project as designs are put out for the public to view, and work on securing the next stage of funding begins.
There is an opportunity for members of the public to engage with the Town Hall plans with a chance to see the designs and meet architects from HAT Projects, who are leading the design work, at two public meetings on Friday 20th January 2pm-5pm and Saturday 21st January 10am-4pm at The Grit Arts Centre. Members of the project team and Councillors will be on hand alongside the architects to answer any questions you have. The designs will also be available for people to view online and at local libraries and community centres as the project looks to update the public on plans which have been heavily influenced by the public consultation back in 2021.
Alongside the desire for the Town Hall to be the home for Lowestoft Town Council, the initial public consultation also had the majority of replies wanting Lowestoft’s heritage to be celebrated within the Town Hall. To enable this, the Project Team recently appointed People Landscapes and Buildings Ltd (PLB Ltd) as interpretation consultants to implement a compelling and interactive heritage experience within the planned Heritage Gallery and other areas in the redeveloped Town Hall. PLB Ltd will be working with Project Team to consult and engage local heritage experts, museums, volunteers, families, schools and communities with the concept designs to inform how they develop.
2022 saw a variety of heritage engagement activities as the project looks to engage with a wide range of people. Activities have included workshops with the Food In School Holidays sessions to create stained glass Christmas cards inspired by the Town Hall Council Chamber’s stained glass, pottery workshops with Lowestoft Ceramics Studio, and the Memories Bike turning up at a wide range of events from the Great Big Green Weekender in September to the Oulton Broad Everitt Park Trust Christmas event. The Open Days in October saw over 200 people visit the Town Hall over two days to find out more about the project and the history of the site whilst also getting a chance to see some graffiti artwork, created by YMCA Shine youth groups and local artist Stane. Some of these pieces will be displayed on the Mariner Street hoardings early in 2023.
Photo: Some of the stained glass activities taking place, inspired by the Town Hall's stained glass
One of the most popular engagement initiatives has been Your Lowestoft Memories in collaboration with Poetry People, with over 100 people attending a one day exhibition at the Parcels Office where further stories were shared. This initiative has been collecting the stories and memories of the Town Hall and Lowestoft Industries from the people of Lowestoft and the response has been positive. Stories from the Eastern Coachworks Richard’s Shipyard and many other industries have been shared with people bringing along photo albums and one person even bringing along their toolbox. All the memories will be collated and turned into a video poem which will be premiered in February.
Photo: People attending the 'Your Lowestoft Memories' exhibition. Photo credit: Lewis Wickwar
As 2023 begins, plans are already in place for future activities whilst investigative surveys and opening up works at the Town Hall continue to inform the detailed designs. Amongst the activities, Local Community Artist Genevieve Rudd will be delivering free creative workshops inspired by the Town Hall whilst three students from East Coast College Art and Design course will be curating their own exhibit and taking over the Town Hall project’s social media accounts as the project continues to engage with a wide range of people.
Cllr Alan Green, Mayor of Lowestoft said “2023 is such an important year for the Town Hall project with the next stage of applying for funding taking place in May. I have been pleased with the amount of engagement and enthusiasm that the people of Lowestoft have for this project. Your input is vital for the future of this project during this crucial year.”
If the Stage 2 funding is approved, the Town Hall Project Team will continue with their aim of having the Town Hall open in Summer/Autumn 2025.
The Lowestoft Town Hall Project is a Lowestoft Town Council initiative supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Towns Fund, Architectural Heritage Fund, Historic England and East Suffolk Council.