Campaign for business park in Harleston

A campaign to secure a hi-tech business park for a Norfolk town to provide cutting-edge jobs for young people has taken a step forward.

Harleston Town Council agreed to support the campaign at a meeting on Wednesday, after Harleston and District Business Forum chairman Clive Attwood spoke about the need to provide a range of employment opportunities, including jobs in IT, financial and professional services.

'Harleston has got quality boutique shops and high-quality housing stock, but there isn't enough office accommodation in the town,' he said.

'If we are going to be successful as a town, we need a business park for the next generation.

'Harleston has got to grow, it's got to provide employment opportunities – if it doesn't develop, it will retract and the things we love about the town, such as the shops, will go.'

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The four-hectare site, off Spirkett's Lane, is in a 'gateway position' close to the A143, a short distance from the lakes and just 12 minutes' walk from the town centre, making it an attractive place to work and near enough to benefit local shops, pubs and caf�s, he added.

However, the site is designated in the local plan for warehousing, light industrial and office (excluding financial and professional – such as accountants, solicitors, etc) use and the first step is to persuade South Norfolk Council to change that designation to open the way for IT, financial and professional services firms.

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Council chairman Eric Bird said: 'We need young people in the town. A business park and a sixth-form will help Harleston to survive.'

Town councillor Adrian Brownsea said: 'The prospects for Harleston in 15-20 years' time are gloomy because we are too reliant on pension income. If Harleston is to exist in future, it must find a new role in life. If housing is built and none of these employment opportunities is developed, we are just adding to the problems.'

District councillor Jeremy Savage said that, with the right technology, international trade could be conducted from anywhere, and Harleston had the added advantage of being an attractive place to live.

'Children are moving out of the area for their future education. We need a sixth-form here and a business park with hi-tech businesses of the future which will employ young people and keep the age balance in Harleston.'

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