A vision of Lynn’s South Gate without traffic. Picture: Wynne-Williams Associates

A £35m project to transform King’s Lynn town centre took a step forward this week with an official bid for government funding.

West Norfolk Council is seeking a £21.6m grant from the Future High Streets Fund after its initial expression of interest was successful last year.

Competition for the cash is tough but, with match funding, the total investment in the town could be around £35.5m if the “robust” submission is approved.

The council’s submission highlighted four key projects, although some of the detail is missing at this stage.

The plans were drawn up with Norfolk County Council and other partners following public consultations and include a new “community hub” and a relocated library in the town centre, near the cinema, new homes and the refurbishment of the 15th century St George’s Guildhall theatre.

If the funding is secured, traffic could be also diverted from the South Gate and the area pedestrianised to protect the historic landmark and ease congestion.

Graham Middleton, borough council cabinet member for business development, said: “We are very pleased to be submitting this business case to the government, which comes at an important time for the town. We are committed to supporting the town centre and businesses in light of the impact of COVID-19.

“The Future High Streets Fund is a competitive process and our bid will be considered against submissions from across the country. 

“We believe that we have developed a robust submission which reflects the long-term needs of the town centre and which has been shaped with feedback we received through our community consultation.

“Our proposals support the sustainable long-term future of the town, which is now even more of a priority for us than ever. A successful bid would be part of our COVID-19 recovery plans for the town centre. 

“But we don’t just want King’s Lynn town centre to survive – we want it to thrive. Our submission would help the town to do just that.”

The council said full details had not yet been developed but diverting the road from the South Gate monument – a “key gateway” to the town – sat within a wider transport strategy aimed at tackling the bottleneck and improving traffic flow around Lynn.

“This project would also see public realm improvements, creating a more pleasant arrival and capitalising on the South Gate as a visitor attraction,” the submission said.

“It would also allow for improvements to London Road pedestrian crossings and traffic lights as well as pedestrian and cycle links, increasing the options for visiting town.”

It is hoped relocating the library and the new “multi-user community hub” will increase footfall in the town centre, bring people together and improve access to training and education facilities.

“In the community consultation people said they wanted the town centre to feel inclusive with something for everyone,” the submission said.

“This would be a space for the whole community.”

Lottery Heritage Fund.

Mr Middleton added: “We want King’s Lynn town centre to be a place of choice, with increased use and satisfaction. 

“This funding, alongside the other investment we are making, could be transformational for the town and leave a legacy for generations. I am excited for what is possible.”

The submission was made on Monday and a decision is expected in the early autumn.

Visit the website at: www.visionkingslynn.co.uk for updates and further information.