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23 June 2004 1754 BST
Fresh look to Millennium Plain
Picture: Artist's impression odfArtist's impression of the new look Millennium Plain

Street performers, dancers and musicians will soon have a new outdoor stage in Norwich with the development of an amphitheatre at The Forum.

Have your say on the plans

See large image of artist's impression

The Forum

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Frozen fun on The Forum ice-rink 2003

BBC moves to The Forum

Webcam view from The Forum
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The Forum in Norwich is about to be transformed into a centre stage for performers.

Builders have now moved into Millennium Plain to dig up the area to provide an 'avocado-shaped' amphitheatre in front of the landmark building.

Tiers of steps are being built around a performance area, which will host music, drama and dance productions, street theatre and outdoor cinema shows.

The space will be transformed over the Christmas period to contain a real ice rink.

Picture: Construction engineers start work on Millennium Plain, click picture to view live webcam: link
Construction engineers start work on Millennium Plain. View live webcam

Robin Hall, chief executive of the Forum Trust, which runs the building, said the organisation had gained a better understanding of the way the space could be used in the three years since The Forum's opening.

"The work is going to give you a huge sweeping, curved shape in front of The Forum to provide what will be two public spaces in front of the building," said Mr Hall.

"You'll still have the flat area straight outside The Forum building, but you'll then be able to go down these sweeping steps, which people can sit on to enjoy music or street theatre," he added.

The work is expected to be finished by October.

During the disruption the public will still have access to The Forum, which houses the library and BBC.

But some people have been puzzled why the work has started during the summer.

Large view of artist's impression of amphitheatre at The Forum

videoView live webcam on Millennium Plain

Sheridan Smith, Forum Trust spokesperson, explained:

"The work is taking place now because we want to have it completed in time to host the hugely popular ice rink again this winter.

"The design, consultation and planning process was finalised last month and work began just four weeks later.

"Obviously we want the project to be finished as quickly as possible and this should be helped by the favourable summer weather conditions," she added.

The work is being mostly funded by the Millennium Commission.

What do you think of the plans? Have your say here.

Your name & where you're from:
Your comments:

Jane Bach ,Norwich
There really should be an additional entrance to the Forum. I think it's great that kids think it's cool to hang out infront of a library, but I hate feeling like i'm on show every time I go in, and i'm young! God only knows how the Elderly must feel. As I said, I've no problem with them being there, I just wish there was a back door or something where people who like their privacy can slip in unnoticed. Please.
Mon Jul 17 13:59:39 2006

Mihir Nakum
I think not only will the public gain an extra leisure activity, but it's a place for everyone of all ages and races to gather and have a nice time. It will also, from my point of view, let people who like performing perform. It is better then performing where no-one will look - and appreciate the talents and gifts that the younger generation of today have.
Fri Oct 28 11:45:33 2005

S Dickerson
It now looks nice, however I can't see why they didn't just do it in the first place.
Wed Dec 29 15:40:45 2004

anna, norwich
I have to agree with many of the previous comments, WHY NOW? aren't architects paid thousands to get these things right in the first place? Why now?? digging our 'modern, attractive high spot of the city' up in mid tourist season seems something in line with the railway companies and yet again, bad planning. When are we going to get some decent brains in norfolk with a little common sense? Also WHY? there is aperfectly good out door stage area at the top of the castle mall and the area in front of the Forum worked very well for watching the football on the big screen, summer 02. It's not even as if they seem to be changing much. the stairs will still be so short that you have your knees in your face! Oh and one last thing, anyone having a look at the webcam today might like to join me in being cynical over the completion date,,,,end of October,,,,,,,that would be tomorrow would it not? Bang on schedule!
Sat Oct 30 10:30:07 2004

my first thoughts-what a waste of money,whats wrong with the current sweeping open plain,however-its looking good
Tue Oct 26 22:14:56 2004

Joe- North Walsham
The promotion of the Arts in and around Norwich is always a positive move- but I hope the new amphitheatre won't take away events that would have otherwise happened at the cute Whiffler Theatre at the bottom of the castle. Money and promotion of existing venues could always be considered...
Thu Sep 30 18:15:05 2004

Jean-Louis - Woodton
Good idea. I simply hope this will not collect water as it was the case at the bottom of the steps before!
Thu Sep 30 07:21:58 2004

Jessie, Sprowston
I think it's going to be great because it will bring more people in to the city - although there might be more congestion, but it will be great fun!
Sat Jul 31 20:12:15 2004

Doug Holt
I cannot say I've ever been a fan of the Formum's design. Whilst it is modern, it is a rather uninspiring and dull piece of archtecture. The new addition of an amphitheatre seems to make the whole thing even more objectionable aesthetically. However as to street theatre etc the amphitheatre could be rather fun and will be an interesting distraction when doing ones' shopping.
Sun Jul 11 12:14:58 2004

Stephen, Beccles
If this is to encourage use of the space please do not forget skateboarders, who may want to launch themselves down the stairs. So don't put those silly anti-skate devices at the top or on that handrail. You never know someone might end up on the front cover of a skateboarding magazine, jump down those stairs.
Sat Jul 10 03:48:07 2004

Bob, Stalham
What a terrific idea, Norwich has suffered from a lack of serious street theatre and the new amphitheatre will provide the perfect venue!
Wed Jul 7 14:56:40 2004

Ewan, Norwich
Having been amazed with the rather fantastic airy design of The Forum, they did have to spoil it by the vast expanse of concrete outside and the hideous "blend in" makeover on the old C&A building. So what a good idea, to dig everything up in the middle of summer and replace it all with - more concrete. More greenery and open space please - we are suffocating!
Wed Jul 7 09:28:40 2004

Ian, Norwich
The Forum Trust seem to have got the timing wrong - should have done it in winter. I wish people get their facts correct. John says council tax being wasted - eh no - its HLF.
Tue Jul 6 11:49:12 2004

Chris, Norwich
What an excellent idea, dig up a load of steps that proved inconvenient for people with with prams, wheelchairs etc. and then replace them with yet more steps. Genius!
Tue Jul 6 09:07:22 2004

Isabel, Norwich
Good idea in principle, very poor planning and timing.
Mon Jul 5 17:08:25 2004

John Norwich
Stop wasting our council tax on supporting odd balls and get some more car parks built in the City centre to replace Rose Lane and St Andrew's to bring in shoppers ,tourists and workers
Mon Jul 5 09:49:28 2004

Gavin Holmes, Norwich
Bad idea. The open area outside the Forum gave Norwich a much needed 'breathing space' in the city and now we're filling it up with gimmicks. It would have been much better to use the space just over the road that is being turned into a car park. You know, the one by the Assembly House. It's just something that really annoys me about Norwich - there seems to be a 'stuff for the sake of it' mentality in our planning (remember the idea some bright spark had to build a giant cybercafe ten years ago?), when space, greenery and general restoration are badly needed in many areas. Shouldn't we be looking at that dump Magdalen Street? There are many beautiful old buildings sitting on top of kebab shops etc. in that area. Or even better, do something about taht awful building next door - the one with the clock tower on it. Honestly, who designed that? When I go to pay my council tax I feel like I'm visiting a giant brick. To be absolutely honest with you, we have some really pleasant 'bits' in Norwich (Timberhill, Royal Arcade, that cobbled place with the antique shops, Tombland-despite-the-naff-nightclubs), but I have to say the quality and design underpinning our planning leaves a lot to be desired. We've swamped, rather than celebrated, our finest areas with bland examples of PoMo architecture whilst at the same time crowing about how 'progressive' Norwich is. Most cities went through this in the Seventies. Perhaps our planners and designers would do well do visit other cities, such as Cheltenham, Bath, Gloucester, Guildford etc. and get some ideas? Incidentally, there's a really lovely little 'stage' by the Castle on top of the Mall. How come no-one ever seems to use that? *remains unconvinced*
Mon Jun 28 15:42:54 2004

Richard, Watton
Funny old thing, summer again and lets make mayhem in norwich for everyone. Shame they didn't think of this when they did the forum, probably the same person that thought of the market idea.
Wed Jun 23 08:28:23 2004

Robert Payne, London
I believe the idea is a good one. I feel the building work involved will add to the impression that Norwich is one large construction site. Information boards sited next to the Forum will help explain to visitors and locals alike why this open space is being dug up.
Wed Jun 23 07:15:37 2004

Amy, Norwich
Why hadn't the idea been considered BEFORE the project was finished a few years ago. It would have been far more economical to have included it in the origional plans. I am also surprised they decided to do it now - given that the Forum is where they have always put up the big screen TV for football and the tennis. As to the ice skating rink - not sure if the space will allow it to be held there in future given the changes.
Tue Jun 22 11:47:55 2004

Jim, Norwich
This is a great idea! With the demise of so many suitable venues in our fine city for artistes (music, performers, etc.) this will be another avenue to showcase their talents.
Mon Jun 21 00:49:22 2004

Martin, Norwich
What a great use of a brilliant space, shame it gets ruined by the noise of the skateboarders - but as they no longer have a dedicated venue, who can blame them for using it. That said, watching them fall off is always entertaining! The idea to develop the area as a new performance space for the city can only be for the good, but I hope we'll still be able to bring our own picnics and drinks as you can for Theatre In The Parks performances and not be expected to buy from The Forum's food outlets.
Sun Jun 20 18:16:42 2004

Peter, Norwich
Great, but consider some type of awning which can be erected to protect audience and players from sun and rain.
Sun Jun 20 09:53:26 2004

Rachel, Norwich
I must admit, I was a bit surprised when they started the work - especially as it's summer. But, despite the loss of the steps during the hot weather (perfect meeting place and to sit and rest) the plans sound fantastic. I can't wait for the ice skating rink to return and I look forward to the outdoor cinema and theatre events!
Sat Jun 19 17:56:46 2004


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