Former Library restaurant Norwich to become part of college

1:45 PM April 7, 2022

A city restaurant which closed before the pandemic could be given a new lease of life as part of a college expansion.

The Library, in Guildhall Hill, shut down after more than a decade in 2019 and has sat vacant ever since.

But its future has now become clearer after the Inspiration Trust lodged a planning application to use the grade two listed building as an expansion of Jane Austen College.

The secondary school, which is based in Colegate, currently caters to 1,100 pupils and is fully subscribed.

But if it is given permission, the Trust will convert the former restaurant – and the Enterprise Center building next door – into nine new classrooms, study areas and additional learning spaces.

It would be utilized by the school’s sixth form, which runs in partnership with neighboring Sir Isaac Newton, allowing the two schools to strengthen their existing relationship.

Jane Austen College, in Colegate, Norwich
– Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Mark Fitzpatrick, director of operations at the Inspiration Trust, said: “We are looking to create satellite provision for up to 220 students from Jane Austen College at Guildhall Hill.

“Jane Austen College has a physical capacity of 1,100 [pupils] and extremely limited land for development, which has led to the need for off-site premises.

“It is anticipated that the satellite provision will support pupils in its sixth form with certain subjects being staffed by Jane Austen College and allocated to Guildhall Hill.”

If the scheme is approved, the Trust hopes the new facility can be ready to be used by pupils from the beginning of the new school year in September.

It would also see some reconfigurations made to the existing site in Colegate, which papers submitted with the application say will provide “an improved environment for staff and students”.

It would not be the first time that the school has taken an existing city building and repurposed it for educational use.

The school’s main site is located in a converted factory in Colegate and has provided its main base since it opened in 2014.

The five-storey building was historically used as the Howlett and White shoe factory, which was designed by Edward Boardman and built in 1876 – before closing more than a century later in 1981.

History of The Library

Jayne and Nigel Raffles are celebrating 25 years running restaurants in Norwich.  They are pictured o

Jayne and Nigel Raffles
– Credit: Simon Finlay Photography

The grade two listed building in Guildhall Hill first opened as a restaurant in 2006 and was run under the name of the Library by prolific city restaurateurs Jayne and Nigel Raffles.

The couple spent more than two years attempting to sell the business, but after they were unable to attract a suitable buyer, took the difficult decision to close it in July 2019.

The restaurant served its final customers on Saturday, July 30, 2019.

Prior to its life as a restaurant, the building – perhaps unsurprisingly – housed a subscription library – believed to be one of the oldest in the country.

It was built in the 18th century and first housed a library in 1784 – a function to held for almost two centuries – closing in 1976.

The property was also home to an advice service, before being converted into a restaurant in 2006.

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