Cash boost for Norfolk jobs and homes schemes

Norfolk's economy is set for a multi-million pound shot in the arm after four major jobs and homes schemes in the county were shortlisted for funding to help create more than 3,000 new jobs.

The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership has shortlisted six schemes in Norfolk and Suffolk for a slice of its �18m Growing Places Fund, which provides access to loans to help major schemes get underway.

Projects picked will create more than 8,800 jobs and 2,600 homes across both counties through a mixture of redevelopment or support to businesses looking to grow and cash to help firms fund their own growth plans.

Seventeen proposals were submitted for support requesting more than �49m, against the �18m pot available withe LEP shortlisting those gaining top marks on a host of criteria from the number of jobs created, speed of delivery, value for money and the ability to repay the funding.

The shortlisted projects include:

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• �2.5m for n NWES enterprise and innovation centre at the Nora site in King's Lynn;

• �1.75m to help Tml Precision Engineering fund a new 32,000 sq ft training and innovation centre at its Hethel facility in South Norfolk and create more than 100 new jobs;

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• �3.5m to unlock access at the Deal and Utilities site at Trowse, near Norwich to help bring forward plans for 1,600 jobs and 700 homes;

�2.5m for the first phase of a Hopkins Homes housing scheme on the former HL Foods site in North Walsham.

In addition in Suffolk, there is �6.6m earmkarked for the Ipswich flood defence scheme and �2m for the Haverhill Research Park, which would be jointly funded by New Anglia and the Greater Cambridge-Greater Peterborough Lep.

The remaining 11 could be considered for future funding rounds if additional funding becomes available.

Nick Daubney, leader of West Norfolk Council, said the King's Lynn project would be a huge boost to businesses in the area.

'It's a very much needed facility in King's Lynn and is a way we can all get together to really support businesses and start-ups and provide world-class facilities for companies who want to start-up,' he said.

Kevin Horne, chief executive of NWES said there had been a longstanding ambition to construct a purpose-built business centre to nurture new and growing businesses in the west of the county.

'With a quick decision a centre could be up and running by summer 2013 and based upon our track record at centres such as Beacon Innovation Centre in Gorleston and Riverside in Lowestoft we would aim to support businesses to create over 100 new jobs a year,' Mr Horne said.

Trevor Ivory, cabinet member for localism at North Norfolk District Council, said the North Walsham funding would help kickstart planned housebuilding on a brownfield site which has been standing empty since the former HL Foods canning factory closed in 2002 and trigger new commercial development and additional car parking at the railway station.

'It's brilliant news to see the scheme coming forward,' Mr Ivory said. 'It's a gateway to the town and has been in need of redevelopment since the factory closed down.'

Neil Dyer, managing director of Tml precision engineering, said the cash would pay for the building of a new state of the art facility at the company's base in Potash Lane, Hethel, which would see 50 jobs created in the first five years rising to 115 jobs in a decade.

'We can't grow unless we get that funding,' Mr Dyer said. 'It's a struggle with the banks at the moment. We had been talking to Clydesdale Bank since last March about a seven figure building project, but last October they knocked it on the head and since then I've been trying to find another funding partner.

'We're very much a growing and expanding business and our turnover could be double what it is now.'

Andy Wood, chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: 'We were impressed with the quality of proposals that were submitted to the board.

'The projects we have shortlisted were done on the basis that they most clearly matched our key priorities around job creation, speed of delivery, value for money and prospect of repayment.

'We had a number of questions regarding the shortlisted bids and that is why we will be examining them in more detail at this month's board meeting.'

As well as the shortlisted six projects, the board also agreed to retain �2.2m of the funds available to support a revised Rural Growth Network proposal aimed at creating hundreds more jobs across the LEP area, and other key priorities.

Each of the six shortlisted proposals will now be discussed in more detail at this month's LEP board meeting, with funding allocations expected to be made at June's board meeting.

Projects which are approved will then be subject to a thorough due diligence process before funds are released.

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