The Place; A new library and university centre
One of Great Yarmouth Borough Council's flagship town centre regeneration projects involves an ambitious £15m scheme to transform the former Palmers department store into a new public library and university and learning centre called The Place.
The project will allow Norfolk County Council to move the town's current public library from Tolhouse Street to a more central location in the town centre. Along with the library relocation, adult learning services, the Registry Office, Norfolk Citizens Advice, and other community support services will also be relocated.
The library will be co-located with a new university and learning centre through a partnership with East Coast College, the University of Suffolk and the University of East Anglia. East Coast College is planning to relocate their current Higher Education, Access to Higher Education and Adult Learning provision to the new university centre. Its Suffolk Road campus in Great Yarmouth will remain the base for its Further Education and vocational training provision. The College will teach degree-level courses at the university centre, accredited by the University of Suffolk.
The ambition is to create a unique environment where Great Yarmouth residents can come to either start their first steps into learning, engage with the wider community offer of the library, receive support from selected partners or continue their learning journey into Further and Higher Education with a combination of skills programmes.
The project is jointly funded through the Future High Street Fund, Town Deal and match funding from Norfolk County Council and the University of Suffolk.
The Place is due to open in the autumn of 2024 and is one of Great Yarmouth Borough Council's key regeneration projects.
The project so far
Great Yarmouth Borough Council purchased the building in November 2021 from the owners of Palmers. All funding for the conversion was fully in place in May 2022, when the design was being developed in earnest. In August 2022 work commenced to strip out the internal fittings and remove asbestos, as well as a small amount of external demolition. This enabled the project team to expose the underlying structure, carry out surveys and tests to ensure structural integrity and generally de-risk the project.
At the same time extensive public consultation was carried out to ensure that there was public support for the project and to better understand what local residents would want to see happen inside the building. The Council also appointed a design and branding consultancy to carry out interviews and focus groups and consult widely to help develop an appropriate name and identity for the building. 'The Place' was adopted to reflect the prominent location in the town's marketplace with a nod to the rich past of the building.
Construction works started on 12th September 2023 on the refurbishment and transformation of the existing building. The works are being undertaken by construction and infrastructure specialists Morgan Sindall Construction, which were procured through the SCAPE National framework. Initial work at The Place involves the roof, which needs to be completely replaced. As soon as the building is waterproof internal fit-out will begin.
Morgan Sindall has previously successfully worked with the council to build the award-winning new £26m Marina Centre on the town's Golden Mile.
The Place will be operational in the Autumn of 2024.