Dog walkers worried by £16m green centre bid
09:36 25 February 2013
A bid to construct the country’s greenest building in Norwich has upset dog walkers after it emerged around half of the public parking spaces at Earlham Park would be lost.
The University of East Anglia (UEA) wants to renovate Earlham Hall and build a £15.9m building next to the park, called the NRP Enterprise Centre.
But, if approved by Norwich City Council, the development will mean around half of the 60 public parking spaces at the park will be lost and reserved for the new centre.
Ingrid Henry, 43, who owns Earlham cafe, said she was worried about a loss of customers.
“Reducing the number of parking spaces will definitely affect my business,” she said. “If we don’t have dog walkers then the cafe won’t be able to stay open. This will mean a decline in business and two more people out of a job.”
Pat Gyte, 73, who regularly uses the cafe, said: “We are already competing with students and Sportspark users for the spaces, but the students don’t use the park and café. Why can’t they use the spaces from their own car parks?”
Dog walker Lynn Walker, 54, added: “Children spend so much time playing video games. This is a chance to get them out into nature and a green space. With less parking, people won’t be able to come.”
But John French, chief executive of the Adapt Low Carbon Group which is based at the UEA, said the number of spaces reserved for the public had already been increased to 34 from 22 after a consultation.
“We would like to reassure all visitors to Earlham Park that the car park will continue to be open for their use,” he said.
The 34 spaces will be reserved for users of Earlham Park during the day and Mr French said all 68 spaces would be available outside of working hours and peak leisure times.
He added that the number of proposed spaces was based on the result of surveys.
The planned 4,000 sqm enterprise centre would include teaching rooms, a lecture theatre, exhibition space and a business “hatchery”, where as many as 25 fledgling low-carbon firms could be nurtured. It is a key part of the Norwich Research Park plans.