Norwich Research Park. Photo by Mike Page.

‘We can’t all be scientists or working in the research park’ - councillors warn Greater Norwich plan must benefit all workers

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
7.00 AM

Government proposals that could bring more than £26m into Greater Norwich’s economy must benefit people in ordinary jobs and not just scientists, councillors have warned.

Exploiting the potential to raise money from the “world class” Norwich Research Park (NRP) is at the heart of plans being developed by council and business leaders for the area.

The Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP) is expected to submit a document next week expressing its interest in securing a government “city deal”, which aims to give cities more control to regenerate their economies.

The report from GNDP, which includes Norfolk county, Norwich, South Norfolk and Broadland councils, claims speeding up growth of NRP will provided 40,000 new jobs and 37,000 houses.

But Stuart Clancy, Broadland interim deputy leader, said there was a lot of “grand thinking” in the city deal document, which he did not want to criticise but question.

The cabinet member for economic development said: “I am happy to take it forward but I am also very cynical and sceptical when I look at the wording in there. I find most of the ideas have already been dealt with through numerous other documents, activities, strategies and policies we are running primarily through the GNDP.

“I still have grave reservations on how we are going to fund it. We have massive shortfalls in funding, which is not apparent how it will move forward.”

It is predicted the community infrastructure levy, in which money is raised per new house built, could provide £131m over 10 years.

But Mr Clancy said the number of houses built had been on the decline for the last three years.

He added: “We can’t all be scientists or working in the research park. There’s a requirement in the economy for it and it’s a growth area but there’s a need to protect ordinary jobs.”

Broadland leader Andrew Proctor said there were hopes the plan could create jobs across Greater Norwich.

And Mr Proctor said: “None of the leaders or officers are looking at this as combining authorities or unitary by the back door.”

Liberal Democrat James Joyce, overview and scrutiny committee chairman, said: “Among other things we felt it to be too focused on the Norwich Research Park and the financial commitment is unquantified - and where’s it going to come from?”