A £35m project to revamp King’s Lynn has been derailed after a bid for funding was rejected by the government.
West Norfolk Council applied for a £21.6m grant from the Future High Streets Fund in June after its initial expression of interest was successful in 2019.
With match funding, it was hoped around £35.5m would be invested in Lynn, bringing new homes, a “community hub” and improving traffic flow around the town.
There were also plans to divert the road and pedestrianise the area around the South Gate to protect the 15th century landmark and ease congestion.
The proposals were drawn up with Norfolk County Council and other partners following a public consultation and, despite stiff competition, it was felt Lynn had a “robust” submission.
Graham Middleton (pictured), cabinet member for business development, said the borough council was “extremely disappointed” to learn the bid had been unsuccessful.
“We had a strong case backed by community support, following extensive consultation,” he said.
“Our High Streets have had a tough enough time this year and some additional funding into projects that had the potential to bring more people into town would have been most welcome.
“However, we always knew it was going to be a big ask and there was going to be stiff competition.
“We also understand the incredible financial pressures on government as a result of the impact of the pandemic.
“The number of towns bidding for the funding was always going to mean that not everyone would be a winner.”
Hopes are now pinned on the town receiving up to £25m under a different government scheme designed to create jobs and drive economic growth.
Last year Lynn was named as one of the first 100 towns in England selected for the government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund.
To receive up to £25m, Lynn and other Town Deal “pioneers” needed to set out how the money would be spent in a Town Investment Plan shaped by local people.
Lynn’s plan, developed by the Town Board, was submitted in the autumn and funding is expected to be agreed with the government by the end of March.
Mr Middleton said the council would also be “exploring its options” through the government’s recently announced levelling up fund.
He added: “We are passionate about securing the future of King’s Lynn, for the benefit of the surrounding area, and will continue to seek funding and develop bids in order to do this.”