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Lowestoft Town Hall Project FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is this the right solution for the town? What alternatives did you consider?

The Town Hall costs Lowestoft Town Council over £50k each year just for basic maintenance, and it is still deteriorating so will cost even more in years to come. Doing nothing isn’t an option because we’re spending money for no benefit. 

We can’t demolish the building as it’s Grade II Listed and is a significant presence on the High Street.

All of our studies concluded there wasn’t a market demand for the building for housing or a hotel, so selling it wasn’t an option.  We want to use the Town Hall to make a difference in the High Street.

You have already spent millions moving to Riverside. Why spend millions more on new offices?

East Suffolk Council built Riverside – they are the district council, formed in 2019.  Waveney District Council (now part of East Suffolk) occupied the Town Hall until 2015, then transferred the by then derelict Town Hall to the newly created Lowestoft Town Council in 2017.  We have been working on a solution for the building ever since, whilst trying to minimise its deterioration using our annual budget.  Lowestoft Town Council currently rents a floor of offices in Hamilton House at Battery Green.

How did you decide what the building should be used for?

In 2018 and 2021 we surveyed the people of Lowestoft – 999 people responded.  There was overwhelming support for the building being returned to public use.  The top suggestions in our survey were: as a Town Hall; for community and heritage activities including a museum; as a café; as an art gallery & creative space; for the Registrars. All these uses are included in the designs.  

Will the Public Works Loan increase my council tax? 

Lowestoft Town Council has committed to only taking out a loan that it can afford to repay without raising council tax to fund it.  Savings will arise from moving from Hamilton House (the current offices for Lowestoft Town Council) and these will go towards loan repayments.  Lowestoft Town Council is also making economies in other areas, for example, bringing all of our grounds maintenance inhouse, rather than paying a contractor to do it. This will also help ensure the Town Hall in itself does not trigger an increase in council tax.

£10m is a huge amount of money. Would it not be better to spend it on affordable housing or road repairs?

We have to do something with the Town Hall as it is already costing £50k a year just to maintain, and costs will continue to increase.

It is not within Lowestoft Town Council’s remit to repair roads or provide affordable housing.  Also, the grants that we have secured for the project are restricted to projects like ours: ones that restore historic buildings, support economic regeneration and/or engage the community in heritage and arts activities.

By putting £4m into the project, we can secure £6m of inward funding to the town, which we believe is good value for money.

How will you make sure the Town Hall is well used? 

There are many different uses planned for the Town Hall. You can read about these in our business plan.  Because we have such varied uses, this gives us greater confidence that it will be busy – even if one area isn’t as well used, the others should compensate for it.  We expect to quadruple footfall in the High Street, as people come to use the Town Hall’s facilities, see the Town Council or register a life event with the Registrars. 

How will you ensure the Town Hall running costs don’t become a burden on taxpayers?

We have a very detailed business plan that models the use of the Town Hall for eight years after opening.  We have been fairly conservative in our predictions of usage.  We use an eight week plan to model how the spaces will be used in the building, then this is multiplied up to show both income and costs over a year.  You can see this in the business plan. 

Included in the eight-year operational financials is the allocation of annual income towards a reserve to cover both regular and longer-term maintenance.  We also have a degree of flexibility in our costs – as the catering business builds, our staffing profile will grow, for example – so that costs can be managed against our income.

If you run the Town Hall with a café and a wedding/party/events venue, won’t that damage local businesses?

A restored Town Hall, with all its different uses, will bring many more people to the High Street, so we aim to support local businesses, not damage them.  Local businesses will be able to compete for catering for bookings in the events space, including weddings and parties.

We were careful in our initial analysis of potential uses of the Town Hall not to introduce anything that directly competed with businesses nearby – we rejected, for example, the suggestion of shops within the Town Hall, a library and cinema.

Will the Town Hall increase traffic and if so, where will everyone park?

Yes, there will be many more visitors to the Town Hall – we estimate up to four times as many on the High Street as currently. We engaged specialist transport planners as part of our planning application work, and they concluded that there will not be any significant congestion issues, and that there is ample parking, both free and paid, within walking distance. 

Blue Badge holders will have allocated spaces on the street outside.  Meanwhile, we’ll be encouraging people to cycle more, with secure, covered, cycle parking at the rear of the building.

I’m interested in working at the Town Hall/working on the project. How do I apply?

All the jobs at the Town Hall will be advertised openly – we’ll be looking for the Heritage Manager early in 2024, and we’ll recruit the Town Hall Manager well in advance of opening.

For the project, we openly procure contracts, which means anyone can bid for work – keep an eye on the Council’s website for details of open tenders/invitations to quote. 

I’d like to get involved as a volunteer.  How can I help?

We have lots of opportunities – the first ones that will come up are working with the Heritage Project Manager on community engagement activities.  As we get closer to opening, we’ll have more available.

If you’re interested, please email: admin@lowestofttowncouncil.gov.uk or reach out via our Town Hall Project Facebook page.

Got a question that isn't answered here? Email us on admin@lowestofttowncouncil.gov.uk