The Halls in Norwich to get £3.4m revamp
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
The first steps towards a multi-million pound revamp of Norwich's historic St Andrew's and Blackfriars' Halls are about to be taken.
A major revamp for the venue, collectively known as The Halls, is on the cards after Norwich City Council's successful bid for £25m from the government's Towns Fund pot of cash.
The Labour-controlled city council has set aside £3.4m over two years for the refurbishment of the buildings - the largest remaining friary complex in the UK.
On Wednesday, councillors will be asked to agree to spend £250,000 on replacement retractable seating in St Andrew's Hall.
The current seating, brought out when the venue hosts concerts, dates back to the 1970s.
The council says improving those, plus new screening curtains and new lighting - at a total cost of £280,000 - will drastically cut the time it takes to set up concerts.
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And, the wider work will, City Hall officers say: "give the complex the best chance of recovery following an extended shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic".
The Halls, which usually host concerts and events, such as Norwich Beer Festival, are forecast to have lost £150,000 due to the enforced coronavirus closure.
During that closure, it was used as the Norwich Community Response hub for council workers to coordinate the emergency Covid-19 response, including getting food and medicine to vulnerable people.
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And Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council said a brighter future is in store for the complex, parts of which date back to the 13th Century.
He said: "The seating and curtains will be fantastic new additions to The Halls and really help to smarten and modernise this beautiful venue.
“The seating especially will provide a better customer experience as well as reduce the time it takes to set up for events.
“This is just one of many projects that will be paid for by the Town Fund to enhance the creativity, liveability, connectivity, accessibility and inclusivity of the city centre.”
The council says the seating replacement is part of a wider project to make improvements to the venue, to make it a "more flexible, creative and digital space".
They say the plans for the full refurbishment are currently in the "very early" stages of development.