Name revealed for Great Yarmouth's new £17m library, university and learning centre
Great Yarmouth Borough Council has revealed the name of the new £17m library, university and learning centre being developed in the town centre.
The landmark former Palmers department store will be known as The Place when it opens its doors next September. The 5,300 sqm, five-storey building first opened as a drapers in 1837 and is being transformed as part of a wider ambition to locate all relevant learning and training functions in a single, high-profile building in central Great Yarmouth.
Ultimately, the aim is to increase the number of people in the town who hold qualifications above Level 4 so they can obtain high-quality and sustainable jobs.
Once converted, The Place will be home to Norfolk County Council's Great Yarmouth public library - currently located in Tolhouse Road - along with adult learning, registry office and other community services such as Citizens Advice. It will also be the base for a new University Learning Centre from where East Coast College and the University of Suffolk will offer degree and diploma courses, as well as access to higher education and adult learning courses. The University of East Anglia will also offer courses from the site.
The ambitious project is being funded via £8.1m from the government's Town Deal, with a further £3.4m from the Future High Streets Fund. East Coast College and the University of Suffolk are contributing £3.5m and Norfolk County Council £2m.
Councillor Carl Smith, Great Yarmouth Borough Council leader, said: ''The Place is hugely significant for Great Yarmouth. We are committed to working hard to help fulfill the aspirations of those in our community. This amazing new learning hub not only provides a modern and welcoming library for the community, but also offers the people of Great Yarmouth fantastic new opportunities to learn and attain qualifications that are crucial to delivering the jobs and careers of the future.
''We are grateful for all the hard work of our partners who share our vision for delivering high- quality education and facilities in an iconic Great Yarmouth location.''
Norwich-based design and branding consultancy Sponge was commissioned by the council to assist with the naming and branding and, via interviews and focus groups, it consulted widely with the community to help develop an appropriate name and identity for the building.
The Place reflects the prominent location in the town's marketplace and looks towards the future of the building. The history of Palmers is also being retained, with parts of its heritage being incorporated into the refurbishment. Stained glass windows with the letter 'P' from various eras were uncovered during the strip-out and these are being restored and integrated into the design.
Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for communities and partnerships, said: "The Place signifies a huge investment in the town and will bring Norfolk County Council services and partners together to create a unique learning environment.
''Great Yarmouth residents will be able to find, start and build their learning journey through skills programmes, courses and activities. The place will combine books, learning and all the other community services that our libraries and Adult Learning service offers, and it will become a community hub which will be accessible to all."
During its consultation around the project, Great Yarmouth Borough Council also interviewed about 400 people - ranging from library users and students to community groups and prospective employers - in connection with the plans, most of whom were supportive of the council's ambition to repurpose the building for the good of the community.
There was also strong support for the public library moving into the town centre, with 59 per cent of respondents saying it would be easier to access.
Professor Mohammad Dastbaz, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Suffolk, said: "The Place has the potential to significantly impact the community in Great Yarmouth and the surrounding area. As a community-impact institution with a vision to transform our region and lives, we strongly believe in raising aspirations and access to higher education. The Place will not only welcome people of all ages to engage with courses from the University of Suffolk but also create opportunities for them to change or establish new career paths."
Stuart Rimmer, Chief Executive of East Coast College, said: "Bringing more adult learning and higher university study into the heart of the town makes it easier to access. We'll be able to bring a new offer to a greater number of residents. We are really proud to be a key partner in this once-in-a-generation opportunity to increase university study in the borough."
The Place forms part of Great Yarmouth Borough Council's vision to regenerate the town centre via a number of major projects, including the new six-day covered market, new homes in The Conge area and the redevelopment of North Quay.