What do we want for a future Norwich?

PUBLISHED: 13:11 15 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:18 15 February 2019

Stefan Gurney from the Norwich BID team.  Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Stefan Gurney from the Norwich BID team. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.


What do we want for the future of Norwich? What does great look like? How can we step into 2040 when it’s only 2019?

An aerial photo of Norwich. Photo: Mike PageAn aerial photo of Norwich. Photo: Mike Page

These and many other big questions are being asked as part of the Norwich 2040 city vision initiative.

Now in its second year, these conferences and debates have helped shape five key pillars that reflect what our wider community seek: a creative city, liveable city, a fair city, a connected city and a dynamic city.

These factors are pretty reflective of what global citizens want too, we’re not alone in our thinking. Mintel’s trend report 2019 states that needs will be driven by the themes of privacy, individuality, wellness, convenience and connectivity.

Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) exists to make a clear positive impact on the vitality of our city centre and the success of the businesses within it. So, we’re glad to be involved and help deliver initiatives to improve life, work and tourism in the city.

Norwich now

While we have one eye on the future, we’re also focused on delivering key projects to make a difference now, and welcome involvement from businesses, communities and individuals alike.

We focus our energies around delivering tangible projects that put something back – from Promoting Norwich, enhancing the Norwich Experience, to delivering a Stronger Voice for city centre businesses.

Inclusive place making

Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to experience the free city wi-fi, Head Out Not Home summer evening entertainment, Christmas illuminations and the many festivals we support which help to animate the city, such as Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Noirwich, City of Ale and Norwich Film Festival.

Working alongside city council, we recently secured the city’s accreditation as the UK’s first sharing city – a great win for Norwich!

This seals our stature as leading the way for new economies, such as the sharing economy.

From home-grown talent such as Liftshare, Refill, Farmshare and The Feed, to welcoming national initiatives including GoodGym. This is about celebrating a sharing economy for all and whilst at BID we facilitate the events and communications, this is something everyone can benefit from – find out more at

Building brand Norwich

To support the vibrant city that Norwich is, we know we need to put it on the map, both as a tourism destination and a place to do business.

Tourism offers a huge opportunity. In a recent Ipsos Mori survey we commissioned it was clear that UK city breaks are valued immensely: 81pc of us Brits take at least one UK city break a year, although only 14pc of those were taken in Norwich.

That’s not to say we’re failing; the tourism sector contributes £752m to the local economy each year. Rather, it demonstrates the huge opportunity for growth. But we need to create an impact and get on the shortlist for new visitors.

Surprisingly, 32pc of those surveyed struggled to place Norwich on the map.

However, those who had visited said they would recommend Norwich to their friends and family; in fact, 74pc wanted to return.

Respondents to a follow-on UK-wide in-depth research study were amazed by what Norwich has to offer and were surprised they didn’t know more.

We can be proud that the city over delivers on what people expect - and with this in mind, we’re investing in refreshing how we present Norwich to the world.

2019 will see a new brand for Norwich emerging across the city and online. From a new VisitNorwich website, the printed city map, revitalised city centre wayfinding, city host uniforms and seasonal tourism campaigns.

We’ve been inspired by stand-out cities around the world from Melbourne to Helsinki and Eindhoven, who have set the bar with award-winning design creating a welcoming place for both residents and visitors. Watch this space for future announcements around Norwich, the City of Stories.

A campaign for Norwich as a place to do business

Lastly, but by no means least, we’re exploring opportunities to promote Norwich as the top UK city for work life balance. With the rise and capability of technology, the future of work is changing and Norwich is well placed to provide everything needed for new and existing businesses to thrive.

I hear on a daily basis that Norwich offers one of the best places to live which is why people return here, create businesses and tend to stay once they’ve studied at university. In fact, we have one of the highest student retention rates in the country of 40pc.

Together with business leaders, New Anglia LEP and the Chamber of Commerce, we’ll collaborate to highlight the best of what Norwich has to offer and make it shine in a campaign to launch towards the end of the year.

2020, a big year for Norwich

Looking forward, we have much to get excited about. In 2020 the castle renovation is due to be unveiled, Dippy the Dinosaur completes his nationwide tour at Norwich cathedral, our largest independent retailer – Jarrold - turns 250 years old and we’re investigating the possibility of a stunning light festival trail which takes in key landmarks across the city. And that’s just for starters.

Norwich 2040 city vision is leading the way in city planning and will focus energies in the areas that will make a difference to future generations. But the future starts here, and we have a lot to be thankful for.

I for one think Norwich is a national jewel of the UK within a regional setting and I look forward to showcasing this over the coming years to firmly put Norwich on the map once and for all.

For more information click here or here.

• The Norwich Society and Evening News are holding a public debate about the future of the city at the Forum on Tuesday, February 19 at 6pm. Admission is free, but booking here is recommended.

• Our Future of Norwich takeover week is brought to you in association with Norwich City Council and Norwich Business Improvement District (BID).

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