PHOTO GALLERY: Norwich civic watchdog calls for creation of City Walls ‘leisure park’
11:10 31 July 2012
Archant © 2009
The creation of a ‘leisure park’ along Norwich’s medieval walls and a new museum are essential to efforts to breathe new life into a key part of the city centre, according to civic watchdogs.
Early stages of discussion are under way over proposals to breathe new life into the south city centre area, which includes King Street, Rouen Road and Argyle Street.
But the Norwich Society has said this is too good an opportunity to miss and that it is vital the city council works towards creating what the city needs, not what developers want.
They say that there has been “positive development” in the area in the past few years, but that it is vital the full potential of the area is fulfilled.
As reported, Norwich City Council and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) are asking people who live and work in the area to help plan for its future.
A series of open days and workshops have taken place in the area, with a project team, led by David Lock Associates, tasked with drawing up a vision and investment plan for the south city-centre area.
The influential Norwich Society has produced its own paper looking at the potential of the area, which concludes that a wonderful opportunity to improve the area should be fully grasped.
And key elements the society would like to see forming part of the blueprint being drawn up are for better access to the city walls leading up to the Black Tower - some of the best preserved in Norwich - and for a new museum, possibly containing modern art, costumes and textiles or city civic portraits.
Vicky Manthorpe, administrator for the society, said any plans for the area must foster and improve use of the river and of the area’s rich heritage.
In the society’s report, she said: “Both the river and the woodland have enormous potential for leisure use. Accessibility is the key and a City Walls leisure park, possibly including the privately owned woodland known as Bracondale Grove and clearly visible from the city centre could be the focus. “An extension of the footpath just below the Ber Street ridge up to and around the walls, coupled with a complete clearance of the self-sown scrub and trees to the north of the wall, would add a nationally significant green heritage asset to the city centre, within strolling distance of the castle.”
The society’s report also states there is “a requirement for a costume and textile museum, a modern art museum and a museum to house the considerable number of city civic portraits.
“The inclusion of a building for this purpose would be a big visitor attraction benefit to the area and the city.”
The society also says, in an area densely populated with flats, family housing and green spaces is “essential for the improvement of the city.”
And they press upon those drawing up the blueprint that the height of future development should be “substantially lower” than the existing Read Flour Mills development.
The paper concludes with the society calling for the planners to “create what the city needs, not what the developers want.”
County council bosses have already said that a new school will have to be built if the ambitious regeneration plan goes ahead.
With new homes likely to form a part of the vision for the area and proposals in the pipeline for hundreds of houses close by, a new primary school will be needed, County Hall has said.
The school plans are at a very early stage, so it is not yet clear where that school might be or how many pupils it would cater for.
A key part of the work which is being done on the area is identifying projects the partnership between the city council and the HCA may be able to fund, but more significantly, ideas and projects that will attract further investment into the area in the long term – up to 20 to 30 years.
The feedback from the sessions held by David Lock Associates will be worked upon in the months ahead, with draft proposals due to be put out for public consultation in the autumn.