A European model could join up Great Yarmouth

Market Gates bus station

Market Gates bus station - Credit: Archant

A man with roots in Great Yarmouth has painted a picture of what the future of the town could look like, based on European ideals of transportation, a single energy market, and not dualling the Acle Straight.

The newly painted red Vauxhall bridge which is nearing the completion of its refurbishment which inc

The newly painted red Vauxhall bridge which is nearing the completion of its refurbishment which includes a new walkway.Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

Anders Larson, now a writer in Vienna, has family who still live in the town. His grandfather, George Scott, was a well-known hotelier and former Mayor of Great Yarmouth.

'I've always been interested in the town, even though I moved away in my teens,' said Mr Larson, 38. 'My mother lives there and you always have this love for the place you grew up.

'But the problems Yarmouth has are mostly endemic of the area, there's this focus on the problems the town has and the dualling of the Acle Straight as a saviour, but that isn't a solve-all.

'Great Yarmouth needs investment to upgrade its infrastructual links to the region, and to bring in this investment the question has to be asked 'What is the point of Great Yarmouth?''

Mr Larson describes the surrounding wealth as the Norfolk Broads and Unesco City of Literature Norwich to the west, the 'established wealth' of North Norfolk, and the ever-expanding commuter belt of London to the south.

'But it is passive and could leave Yarmouth to a fate as a low-income dumping ground, whilst the rest of East Anglia gentrifies around it.

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'The second answer is more audacious, but plausible if you are willing to take the long-view.'

Across the North Sea in Holland, Mr Larson points to the wind farms there. 'In Yarmouth, we have seen the promising beginnings of a home-grown offshore engineering industry,' Mr Larson added. 'Yarmouth could, with patience, drive and investment, take this burgeoning offshore wind industry, create investment and infrastructural partnerships with Holland, and through the use of its outer harbour, become the East of England's gateway to the single energy market.'

But his vision does not stop there, as he insists to go along with this industry must come a reinvestment in the town's infrastructure.

'And this means investing in modern methods of connectivity, which can easily bring future employees, investors and residents to and from the centre of Yarmouth.'

He suggests a light rail or tram system, which would cover the town using a north to south, east to west route, connecting key areas of the town with one another and eventually leading to Norwich.

'It is a remarkably simple idea, one that carries the potential for profound and deep-lasting consequences for Yarmouth viability and future.'

Mr Larson's initial plans would see a system similar to Vienna's Badner Bahn, and would extend from the railway station through the Market Place and eventually to Market Gates. The shopping centre would become a transport hub, eventually extending lines to other parts of the town.

With this transportation overhaul would come investment, interest, foot-traffic, 'commercial dynamism and regeneration', Mr Larson said.

'Imagine this; Great Yarmouth already has an outer deep-water harbour, a port, and faces almost directly across the water from the 13 highly-developed seaports of Holland. With investment, Yarmouth could be the East of England's gateway to the single offshore-energy market.

'It would have burgeoning technological and commercial partnerships with its continental neighbours. It would have good offshore­ industrial educational and technological infrastructure. It would have a fully­-integrated transportation platform, linking the region directly to its industrial, entertainment and commercial districts.

'The only thing it takes is investment,' Mr Larson said.

'And the worst thing Great Yarmouth can do now is stay as it is. You just need to have the town make sense.'