Downham Market in the spotlight at Westminster with launch of £350m project - bringing 4,500 new jobs

PUBLISHED: 19:34 23 November 2015 | UPDATED: 19:34 23 November 2015

Artist impression of the proposed Centre for Advanced Knowledge Engineering at Downham Market. Picture: Submitted

Artist impression of the proposed Centre for Advanced Knowledge Engineering at Downham Market. Picture: Submitted


A west Norfolk town has been thrust into the spotlight with the launch of a £350m project - expected to bring 4,500 jobs to the region.

Developers behind a new engineering campus in Downham Market have assured the funding will be found, and work is due to begin in the middle of next year - once planning permission has been agreed.

The Downham Market Centre for Advanced Knowledge Engineering (CfAke), showcased in a reception at the House of Commons today, is aimed to attract world-leading businesses to west Norfolk.

Along with new investment at RAF Marham, it is expected to bring a total of £1bn to west Norfolk.

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss told those at the reception how the data and technology campus, at the former RAF Downham Market, would help people not just live locally, but work locally as well.

“We know there is a growing trend for this,” she said. “This is a fantastic town which is very well connected and about to be better connected.”

The company behind the project, Downham Market Development (DMD) want to create a new university technical college on site to provide the workforce for the business hub.

The college, which will be among the first buildings to be compete, is aimed provide education for 14 to 19 year olds, taking its first students in September 2017.

Developers said an application for the college, which would be launched in partnership with the College of West Anglia, would be submitted in January.

Michael Carrick, chief executive of DMD’s parent company Aventa Capital Partners, said it was an opportunity to transform Downham Market’s rural economy, and drag investment away from London.

“We can’t sustain more economic growth in London,” he said. “It’s not affordable.”

He added the project would bring more homes and schools to the area. “We want to make transformational change,” he said.

Mr Carrick added the project would go through consultations with people in Downham Market before work began.

Leading the project in Downham Market is DMD chief executive John Beer, who said major US corporations had shown interest in the project.

He added more details would be announced in the next month.

An application for full planning permission is expected to be submitted in the next three months with work to begin in the middle of next year.

Are you launching a major business project? Call business writer Sabah Meddings on 01603 772879 or email

1 comment

  • The comment made by Lyn Truss about commuting was silly-does she not realise people move to Downham to be near the railway line because they have specialist jobs elsewhere but cant afford to live where they work! Someone working at one of the Cambridge institutions or science parks or in London is not likely to need a job at this projected development . Downham Market already has a high school , why is the college of West Anglia seeking to expand into this area? The people I know in IT and science are graduates, masters and doctors from established universities so I am puzzled what exactly these job opportunities will be that can be satisfied by 16-19 training-especially when in the past most STEM degree courses haven't insisted upon applied A levels. Am I wrong in suspecting yet another academic institution sniffing out job creating funding available for training kids now forced to stay in school til 18 ? If this is genuine and a big data handling site and biosciences etc move in then it will be wonderful-but I don't see any potential interest specifically named. NCC should get behind it to make sure it is realised and does not stall at a college and 1500 houses.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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