NUA reveals more plans for former Open as work begins

The NUA sign now hangs proudly above the door of the former Open in Bank Plain

The NUA sign now hangs proudly above the door of the former Open in Bank Plain - Credit: Archant

Norwich University of the Arts has revealed further details of its plans for the former Open building on Bank Plain.

It has said it intends the building to become the central focus point of its city campus, shifting the epicentre from the area around St Georges Street.

Under the plans, there is expected to be some public access to the building.

As part of scheme, the university has been working with City Hall on a bid for 'levelling-up' cash from central government which would finance a major renovation of the site.

A final decision is not expected until after the new prime minister is announced in the autumn.

In the meantime, initial work is already under way at the building, with the Open branding removed and replaced with NUA's own signage.

The former banking hall was most recently used by the Open Youth Trust for a variety of functions, including as a live music venue, office space, and housing its youth engagement activities.

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But the building has not been in active use since March 2020, with the charity going under after the country was plunged into lockdown.

It was bought by NUA earlier this year.

NUA vice-chancellor Professor Simon Ofield-Kerr

NUA vice-chancellor Professor Simon Ofield-Kerr - Credit: Andi Sapey

Prof Simon Ofield-Kerr, the university's vice chancellor, said: "The university has submitted ambitious plans for Bank Plain as part of the city's levelling up fund bid to the government.

"The idea is that this building becomes the centre of the university and a publicly accessible building open to the Norwich community.

"However, the outcome of this bid is likely to be delayed due to the current interim period pending the selection of a new prime minister.

"In the meantime, we are ensuring the security and safety of the building.

"Over the next few weeks, Norwich should start to see a difference on the outside of the building, as we begin to care for this important city asset."

It is not clear at this stage what public access to the building the general public will get, however, it is understood that live music and similar events are unlikely to figure in the plans.

The purchase of the Gurney-designed building is the latest in a long line of prominent city properties to be taken on by the arts university.

The past decade-and-a-half has seen the college add a growing number of buildings to its portfolio.

It recently also built new halls of residence and lecture theatres in Duke Street.