After five years of planning and work, a significant milestone in the Diss Heritage Triangle project was reached on Friday as the keys to the iconic Corn Hall were handed over to contractors to begin improvements.
Norwich-based company Pentaco Construction Limited will be carrying out the works, which will cost more than £1.6 million and are due to be completed this time next year.
It has been five years to get to this stage and over the course of the calendar year this poor, old, hall is going to be transformed into something really amazing
Working to designs by Hudson Architects, the project will restore and upgrade the original Corn Hall, Waveney Room and Council Chamber, adding a modern two-storey extension at the rear to provide box office, foyer, bar, gallery and exhibition areas.
It forms part of the Heritage Lottery-funded Diss Triangle project, which, at a cost of £3 million, hopes to regenerate the historic part of the town.
Sheila Moss King, programme manager for the project, told the Diss Express scaffolding would first go up, before the demolition of an infill building at the back of the hall.
“It’s wonderful. I’m very excited about it. I think now we are going to see such rapid progress,” she said. “It has been five years to get to this stage and over the course of the calendar year this poor, old, hall is going to be transformed into something really amazing.
“There will be some quite visible things going on, but obviously it will all be boarded off.”
She added the building was a “major draw” for the town, attracting visitors from a wide area.
“The Corn Hall has already developed audiences from the region of 5,000 in their first year to 25,000-plus already”, she continued. “When this is actually a proper, comfortable venue with all the facilities that a performing arts and heritage venue should have, then it will bring many more people to Diss and come to this part of town.”
Mayor of Diss Julian Mason added: “This is something the town council has been looking forward to for several years and it’s just great to see it come to fruition.
“The whole team have done a tremendous job on grants they have managed to raise and the donations they have got.
“Without that the project would have not gone ahead.”