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Let’s turn Norwich’s River Wensum into a draw for tourists, says watchdog

PUBLISHED: 06:30 26 June 2012 | UPDATED: 10:10 26 June 2012

The Norwich Society wants to see the River Wensum made more attractive for tourists. Society member Alec Hartley near Whitefriars bridge Photo: Steve Adams

The Norwich Society wants to see the River Wensum made more attractive for tourists. Society member Alec Hartley near Whitefriars bridge Photo: Steve Adams

Civic watchdogs have launched a rallying cry for more to be done to turn the River Wensum into a draw for tourists and businesses.

The Norwich Society says the most is not made of the river, compared to cities such as Cambridge.

Last night the society launched a new film to encourage a rethink over the way the river is used.

Shown to invited guests, including councillors, council officers, architects and business leaders, the Beside Still Waters film highlights how some parts of the river have been neglected, with poor access for the public.

The society says the river should be a focus for tourism, but suffers from a lack of joined-up thinking and under-investment.

Peter Bentley, chairman of the Norwich Society, said, at a time when people were buying more online, improving the river could be key to drawing people into the city centre.

He said: “The history, heritage and architecture of the city needs better promotion and to be made more accessible to visitors. Amongst all the treasures, the River Wensum is the most under promoted.”

While the film praised parts of the Riverside Walk, such as between the court buildings and the Compleat Angler, there was criticism of uglier buildings near New Mills Yard and at Mary Chapman Court in Duke Street.

The film followed a discussion paper drawn up by the Wensum River Parkway Partnership at the end of last year, which sparked a debate on the use of the river.

Alec Hartley, the society’s representative on that partnership, said: “Access to the river bank is the key. “Just one of the proposals we have pushed around is that maybe the Riverside area could consider extending itself onto the water, possibly with music boats, restaurant boats and river taxis going past the various pubs. That happens in many other river cities.”

He used Bedford as an example of a place which made the most of its river, hosting an annual river festival.

He said, while it might cost thousands to organise, such a festival generates money and Norwich should consider such an idea.

Last week Norwich City Council’s planning committee agreed plans which will enable the Canterbury Punting Company to run chauffeured punts on the river from a floating pontoon close to Norwich Playhouse in St Georges Street.

• Do you think more needs to be done to breathe new life into the river Wensum? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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