Diss Heritage Triangle has been shortlisted for four prestigious awards in the space of one week – a feat which has been hailed by the town’s mayor as a “staggering achievement”.
The triangle project, which includes Diss Corn Hall arts venue, has been selected as a finalist in the Royal Town Planning Institute’s (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2018.
Last week’s announcement was followed by news on Monday that the Corn Hall itself had been listed in two categories in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (Rics) East of England Awards.
The Rics shortlisting means the Corn Hall will automatically go forward to be considered for the overall title of East of England Project of the Year.
“Just to be nominated for not one but four national and regional awards is a staggering achievement,” said Diss mayor Trevor Wenman.
“The town council is immensely pleased, as it is a vindication of the efforts of the council, the town clerk and her staff over the last decade in steering this project to its conclusion, which all helps put Diss on the map.
“It is really important to realise, however, that this would not have happened without working in partnership with numerous organisations, including the Heritage Lottery Fund, the county and district councils and, in particular, with the Corn Hall and Heritage Triangle Trusts and their volunteers.
“We talk of the Heritage Triangle project coming to its end, but the work of this small army of volunteers work continues in running the Corn Hall and maintaining the Heritage Triangle as the beating historic heart of the town.
“We very much hope for success at the awards ceremonies so that our unsung heroes can get the recognition they deserve.”
The Heritage Triangle project first began life in 2009 when a bid was submitted to the regional Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Its plan for the Corn Hall alone was praised, but unsuccessful.
As a result, new plans were drawn up to meet more wide-ranging national HLF criteria, which encourages community regeneration and heritage promotion.
These were drawn up by Bressingham architect Brian Falk, who first coined the term Heritage Triangle.
In total, the project received funding of £3.4 million from backers including the HLF, South Norfolk Council, Diss Town Council, Norfolk County Council, local residents and other sources.
“It is a great achievement to be shortlisted for these awards in excellence in planning for heritage and culture,” said Mr Falk.
“The project involved working with a great number of people with very different views and it needed to be a collaborative process to be a creative one, and not one of development control.
“It was one that was pro-active and helped pull people together to bring out the creative essence of their own skill.”
Peter Hyde, Heritage Triangle trustee and chairman of the triangle traders’ group, said: “The triangle project would not have been possible without the help of so many people who have given freely of their time and expertise and to get to this stage with these awards is a well-earned recognition of their combined effort.
“Many thanks must also go to the traders who, despite serious hardships during the roadworks, organised events and fairs, donated raffle prizes, maintained and watered plants and are all working together to promote Diss as the very special place it is.”
Angela Sykes, director of the Corn Hall, said: “It is wonderful that the project is now being recognised for its excellence by bodies like Rics, although the best reward has been that of locals and visitors saying how much the changes are benefiting their everyday lives.
“In its first year of operation since reopening, we expect to have more than 50,000 people through the doors of the Corn Hall – double the number before the refurbishment.”
Miranda Moore, chairwoman of Diss Museum trustees, said: “As the centre for heritage in the town, we are delighted the project has been shortlisted.”