Opinion: Spread the word – Norfolk's time has come

The Market in Norwich City Centre in Norfolk, England

Norfolk's time has arrived and it is time to blow our own trumpet, says Arnolds Keys managing partner Guy Gowing - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I am a real believer that Norfolk needs to blow its own trumpet to the rest of the country and beyond. We all know what a great place our county is to do business, but sadly that message doesn’t always get across to potential investors elsewhere.

I was delighted to take part in a popular podcast series published by EGi Radius, the people behind Estates Gazette, the leading commercial property publication. They asked me to talk about the economic and business situation here in Norfolk. When they suggested I sum up what I wanted the podcast to get across, the answer was easy: Norfolk’s time has come.

Real estate agent in suit headshot

Managing partner at Arnolds Keys Guy Gowing - Credit: Arnolds Keys

This isn’t an empty sentiment – I truly believe that our county is finally getting itself onto the map. Improved transport links, the discovery of our county by people from elsewhere following the staycation boom, and a world of work that has changed beyond all recognition as a result of the pandemic, have all combined to project Norfolk into the limelight.

During the half-hour interview, I talked about the situation with regard to offices in Norfolk. All sorts of factors are driving a rapid return to the office – from pressure from employers (as expressed by the CBI and others), to a recognition that working in isolation reduces collaboration and creativity, and has contributed to poor mental health amongst many workforces.

Permitted development rights have stripped out much of the lower-quality office space, especially in Norwich, and there is high demand for the remaining Grade A office buildings, leading to good opportunities for investors. This is reflected in strong demand for freehold offices. Arnolds Keys has done a number of deals totalling many tens of thousands of square feet already in 2021.

I also pointed out that despite what some national commentators are saying, retail is very much still thriving in Norfolk and in Norwich especially. While some national brands have disappeared – as they have everywhere – our strength is in niche retail such as that found in the Norwich Lanes. These independents recognise the importance of experiential retail. I cited local gin distiller Bullards as an example: they have opened two gin tasting bars in Norwich as well as prestigious venues in London including Covent Garden.

The final aspect I talked about was the employment environment here in Norfolk. Perhaps due to our slightly isolated nature, we have developed a strong online retail presence (the leading national photographic retailer Wex is based in the city, for example), and we offer a workforce with specialist skills in areas such as offshore engineering and food production.

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All of this has been boosted by dramatically improved communications, including roads such as the A11 and the NDR rail service to London and beyond, and thriving ports such as Great Yarmouth (not to mention our proximity to Britain’s biggest container port, Felixstowe).

Yes, Norfolk’s time has definitely come. Now all we need to do is get the message out there to encourage investors to make the connection and invest in the county’s future.

You can listen to the podcast at estatesgazette.podbean.com

For more information, please visit www.arnoldskeys.com

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