Wednesday, November 14, 2012
A vision of how new life could be breathed into a key part of Norwich City Centre will be unveiled this week - and this is the first image of how it could be transformed.
A draft plan is being drawn up for the area around King Street and feedback from the public and businesses has revealed the enthusiasm for a blueprint aimed to attract investment into that part of Norwich.
People who live and work in the area have said they want to see homes with gardens built, more done to showcase the river and an area which is rich in heritage already transformed into a cultural hub for the city.
Norwich City Council and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) had asked people to help plan for the future of the area between the River Wensum, Ber Street and Rose Lane.
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 initial findings have been identified by the project team and the results of it will be revealed at a two-day public exhibition this week.
But, ahead of that exhibition the Norwich Evening News can reveal an artist’s impression of what might happen if long awaited investment in St Anne’s Wharf is forthcoming.
More than 400 homes were supposed to be built on the site, but the plan stalled after owners City Living went into administration in 2010.
The city council has already put in place the £2.5m Lady Julian Bridge, which connects Riverside to King Street. but it currently feels like a bridge to nowhere, given the lack of development.
However, part of the council’s hopes for laying the groundwork of a new vision for the King Street area is to finally get homes built on that site.
The ideas and views are being put together into a draft plan which will identify projects the council and HCA partnership may be able to deliver and set out opportunities that could attract investment into the area.
Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council says: “We’d like to thank everyone who took the time and effort to share with us their local knowledge as well as ideas and aspirations.
“We are confident that, by continuing to work together, we can identify projects that could give this vibrant area of the city an extra boost and, in time, attract a wealth of investment and prospects.”
Akin Durowoju, from the HCA, said: “It was great to see so many local people playing such a positive, active role in the planning process.
“The suggestions and feedback participants gave to the project team will play a big part in future of Norwich, directly helping to shape the next phases of development.”
Civic watchdog The Norwich Society has already said the opportunity to improve the area should be fully grasped. Key elements the society would like to see 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.
The King Street Cultural Quarter, a group made up of residents, businesses and others with an interest in the area, said they welcomed the chance to see what the consultants have come up with. Jason Borthwick, chairman of the group, said: “We liked the way the consultation has been run and the fact a lot of people have had the chance to have their say. That is really positive.
“But we are a little hesitant, in that apparently there was a similar consultation about 10 years ago which just got forgotten about.
“This is a step in the right direction, but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.” Mr Borthwick, who has been trying to turn the former Ferry Boat Pub in King Street into a backpackers’ hostel, warned if the council is to attract investment into the area, then it needs to look at whether it helps that happen.
He said: “Unless the council sorts out their own planning department and makes it work more efficiently for local residents and businesses, then there’s a risk it will put off investment.”
People have been invited to look at the initial findings the project team has identified and give their views at the public exhibition.
It will take place at the King’s Centre, in King Street, on Friday, from 10am until 7pm, and from 10am until 4pm on Saturday.
There will also be a display inside Castle Mall from 10am until 6pm on Friday and 10am until 4pm on Saturday.
Anyone is welcome to attend the exhibition and the information will also be available through the project website at www.norwichsouthcityarea.co.uk from Friday, along with an opinion survey.
People will then have until Monday, December 17 to give their views ahead of these being drawn up into a plan for consideration by the partnership in early 2013.