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Plans for “world class facility” unveiled in Downham Market

PUBLISHED: 12:08 04 February 2015 | UPDATED: 12:08 04 February 2015

Advanced Knowledge Engineering Presentation. Pictured (from left) John Beer, Michael Carrick, Annabelle Lloyd-Carrick and Peter Twist. Picture: Ian Burt

Advanced Knowledge Engineering Presentation. Pictured (from left) John Beer, Michael Carrick, Annabelle Lloyd-Carrick and Peter Twist. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant

Early site plans have been unveiled for a new commercial and educational campus which could be coming to West Norfolk.

The team driving the project claims the venture will be “a world class facility of global importance” and have earmarked a site on the outskirts of Downham Market for development.

Their venture – provisionally named the Centre for Advanced Knowledge Engineering – is set to be the first facility of its kind in Europe and will specialise in the fast-growing and complex field of data analysis.

John Beer, who lives in Downham Market and is the driving force behind the project, presented details alongside colleagues from Aventa Capital Partners at a consultation event.

He said: “There is still a long way to go before we have the campus built but today is all about making progress towards our vision and to demonstrate the amount of support we have from the local community to get this up and running as soon as we can. Big Data and Knowledge Engineering are going to be very important to the UK and global economies and the UK has already established itself as a world leader.”

It has been estimated that £250m will be invested into the centre and 4,600 new permanent jobs will be created and 1,500 temporary construction positions.

Outline planning permission was previously granted for the site, which was the old RAF base near at Bexwell, but Aventa Capital Partners will need to “potentially expand extant permissions to encompass its visions and aspirations for the site”.

Their current plans include a commercially-supported Institute of Data Science as well as office and research premises for companies looking to expand, relocate or establish a base in the UK.

For education, there will be a facilities in partnership with the College of West Anglia and potentially an Academy School. Additional infrastructure which includes hotel and leisure facilities and a 200-bed hall of residence were also presented.

Mr Beer added that the plans had been shown to Chinese investors and “received some very encouraging interest”.

Councillor Kathy Mellish, who attended the event, said afterwards: “I feel more confident having had a second presentation that this venture has potential to be ground breaking in the area.”

What do you think of the proposal? Email louise.hepburn@archant.co.uk

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