An ambitious project which could transform a historic part of the centre of Norwich can be revealed today.

The multi-million pound bid to radically redesign Guildhall Hill and the surrounding area is one of two major schemes currently being worked up by the city council.

The other involves the regeneration of Sloughbottom Park, including a new 3G football pitch and makeover for the pavilion.

To get the two projects off the ground, Norwich City Council is bidding for money from the government's 'Levelling Up' fund.

The fund is designed to support major community schemes across the country and all councils are entitled to submit one bid for each parliamentary constituency in their area.

Eastern Daily Press: Guildhall Hill in NorwichGuildhall Hill in Norwich (Image: Casey Cooper-Fiske)

The Guildhall scheme, which would cost £5.9m is in Labour MP Clive Lewis' Norwich South constituency and has his backing.

According to a report presented to the Greater Norwich Growth Board (GNGB), the project would create "a public space destination" between the Guildhall, Jarrold department store and the market, connected to the north of the city centre via a rejuvenated Exchange Street.

The taxi rank, which currently occupies part of the area, would be relocated between City Hall and the Forum, close to the corner of St Peter’s Street and Bethel Street.

This would enable the creation of “an attractive and generous seating and planted area" below the Guildhall.

The report adds: “The demand is demonstrated by the people that crowd into Memorial Gardens to chat and eat throughout the day.

“The arrangement of seating and planting would open and frame pedestrian routes that are currently blocked by parked and manoeuvring taxis."

Access to parking for disabled motorists and commercial loading for the Market and businesses would remain.

Changes to Exchange Street would include widening and paving the footway, elevating the road close to the same level and installing street furniture.

This would mean "people can sit outside and enjoy their surroundings, including at the popular cafes which have benefited from the temporary arrangements introduced during the pandemic,” the report says.

The GNGB has said it would be prepared to contribute some £2.8m towards the project, with the rest coming from the government.

Eastern Daily Press: Norwich City Council has requested funding to regenerate Sloughbottom ParkNorwich City Council has requested funding to regenerate Sloughbottom Park (Image: Simon Finlay)



The second scheme, at Sloughbottom Park, which is backed by Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, would cost £8.5m.

According to the GNGB report, the project “aims to improve the well-being and life chances of people in Mile Cross, helping to address the intergenerational problems which entrench deprivation and inhibit social mobility”.

It would see the creation of a new 3G football pitch, as well as a “rebuilt” pavilion and cafe - though a council spokeswoman confirmed that this would not involve the demolition and replacement of the existing pavilion. 

The report states: “Overlooking the playing fields, the existing pavilion will be rebuilt as a more suitable community facility.

“The pavilion will serve multiple purposes: an information hub and classroom for the Norfolk Wildlife Trust so they can take school parties and local volunteer groups to the adjacent Sweetbriar Marshes, a space for the BMX club to run British Cycling sessions and Norfolk County FA to run coaching and educational sessions and will also be available for public booking.”

Eastern Daily Press: The BMX track at Sloughbottom Park would be refurbishedThe BMX track at Sloughbottom Park would be refurbished (Image: Antony Kelly)

The regenerated park would also feature league-standard changing rooms and an upgraded play park. 

In addition, the BMX track would be refurbished and the car park resurfaced.

New signage and lighting would be placed along the park’s central path and car park, with the ‘Dolphin Path’ cycle route upgraded and two bike repair stations installed. 

The GNGB has said it would be prepared to contribute some £850k towards the project, with the rest coming from government.

The government has not yet revealed which projects will be awarded funding. 

Norwich’s neighbouring councils - Broadland and South Norfolk - did not submit any bids, despite being entitled to submit two bids of up to £20m each.

Every other Norfolk council has made at least one bid for money from the programme.