Great Yarmouth Borough Council has been working with a wide range of community groups to involve them in the ambitious new project to restore the town's iconic Winter Gardens
As part of its consultation work around the exciting regeneration scheme, the council team has been running workshops, site visits and events to explain the plans for the seafront landmark and seek community feedback and input.
The Winter Gardens is the last surviving Victorian glass house in the country and, in 2021, was one of five transformational projects across the country to be awarded a Heritage Horizon Award from The National Lottery Heritage Fund Made possible thanks to funding from National Lottery players, the Heritage Horizon Awards were developed to support innovative projects that will revolutionise UK heritage.
The Civic Society recently hosted a special presentation about the project and the council team also met with the Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society to update people on the concept designs for the building.
Rachel Daniel, Great Yarmouth Borough Council's Winter Gardens partnership and engagement co-ordinator, said: ''We are working hard to ensure we meet with as many local groups as possible to tell them all about this fantastic project and to gather any ideas and feedback they have.
''These latest sessions have been really valuable and have enabled us to answer lots of questions and talk through the next steps. The visits to the Winter Gardens were particularly useful and well received because people could visualise how the new designs might come to fruition.''
The Heritage Fund award will see the iron and glass structure restored to its former glory as a people's palace. Complete with beautiful gardens, galleries and café areas it will offer both entertainment and education, breathing new life into the area.
Meanwhile, YMCA groups from Great Yarmouth and Norwich have visited the Winter Gardens to discover what made it such an important part of the town's seaside history. They spent a morning enjoying a tour of the building and learning about the plans for redevelopment. After the visit the groups provided feedback on ideas about how young people might be engaged in the project.
Ms Daniel said: ''We have also continued to work with the Restoration Trust - an organisation that provides cultural therapy for local people. They were able to share their memories of roller skating, music and dancing at the Winter Gardens, which was brilliant!
''We will continue to work with the community and seek ideas and input as the work progresses and are grateful to National Lottery players and The National Lottery Heritage Fund for making the project possible.''
Robyn Llewellyn, Director, England, Midlands & East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said, "It's fantastic to hear how the team at the Winter Gardens are working with local community groups to ensure it will be a welcoming space for as many people as possible. The Winter Gardens are an important part of Great Yarmouth's heritage, and this community focus will help celebrate the town's rich history in a way that everyone can enjoy and be proud of."
The project is currently in its development phase and Great Yarmouth Borough Council is working with a project team, local partners and communities to develop plans for the Winter Garden's conservation, design, business model and activities.
Pending approval from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project is due to be completed in 2026.