Local council examine feasibility of new ferry on edge of Norwich

Visitors to Whitlingham Country Park could have a new way to travel to the popular tourist hot spot in the future.

Thorpe St Andrew Town Council has begun looking into the possibility of introducing a pedestrian ferry across the River Yare to connect Thorpe marshes and the picnic area at Whitlingham.

The plans are only in the early stages at the moment and the process of planning applications and funding – which could be in the region of �250,000 – are yet to be determined.

But at the town council's monthly meeting at the Dussindale Centre on Monday, councillors agreed to continue exploring the possibility.

The town council has looked to a similar scheme in Scotland for inspiration about the plan.

That is in the seaside village of Cramond, in the north-west corner of Edinburgh, where the local council is looking to re-establish a 17th-century boat crossing, that became defunct in 2001, with a new chain ferry that they believe will be financially sustainable.

The proposed structure there could be likened to a table onto which the floating platforms are attached, with a metal ramp connecting it to the shore.

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A wheel is designed to have a lift hung off one side and a counter balance tank on the other side to allow water to be pumped into it to raise the lift and pumped out to raise the lift.

Chairman of the meeting, county councillor Ian Mackie, described it as an 'excellent idea' and in general the town councillors agreed that it should be pursued.

Town clerk Steven Ford said: 'It's a huge project, but you never know, if you could get enough people involved it could happen.'

Mr Ford had written to the Broads Authority on behalf of the town council to propose the initial idea and councillors had the opportunity to read the response from planning officer Fergus Bootman.

Mr Bootman said: 'The Broads Authority would support the introduction of a chain ferry between Thorpe and Whitlingham.

'There is no objection in principle to the idea of a chain ferry; indeed, the idea is exciting and has the potential to offer many benefits to both the residents of, and visitors to, Thorpe St Andrew and users of Whitlingham Country Park.'

Mr Bootman did also say that he understood that the plans were at a very early stage and asked that several issues were addressed, including the location and the affect on local residents, parking, the mechanism of the ferry and how it would be operated.

Have you got a story about the Thorpe St Andrew area for the Evening News? Call local reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or email david.freezer@archant.co.uk