Investment in transport infrastructure key to the future of Great Yarmouth
- Credit: Mike Page
Major investments in infrastructure could change the fortunes of a traditional seaside resort over the next ten years and beyond.
The announcement on Friday that Norfolk County Council would commit around £24m towards a new bridge in Great Yarmouth reflected its importance to the regional economy.
It is key to the growth of the region, according to managing director of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.
Chris Starkie said: 'The Great Yarmouth area plays a vital role in the economy of the East and in our ambitions for growth and development.
'It is an important population centre, contributes greatly to our tourism sector and is a focal point along our all-energy coastline – one of the key industry sectors highlighted in our Strategic Economic Plan.
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'To that end, we're working on a number of initiatives that are making a real difference to the local economy.'
The LEP supports Yarmouth's Enterprise Zones in South Denes and Beacon Park which focus on the energy sector.
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The zone is home to 40 companies, support 2,100 jobs and has attracted £31m of private sector capital investment and it has permission to almost double its size this year.
The borough has a resident population of nearly 99,000 – and in the summer months it effectively doubles with the number of tourist visiting.
The resident population could rise to 107,000 over the next two decades according to the borough council.
As well as public sector investment, regeneration is also being driven by the private sector, with plans for a new cinema, large casino and restaurants on the seafront and the rebuilding of the fire-struck indoor market among the highlights.
After the oil and gas boom in the 1960s, Yarmouth established itself as a key hub in the southern North Sea.
That boom has turned to bust, with scores of companies folding in recent years, as the costs of extracting dwindling resources has become less competitive.
There is, however, strong growth in the offshore renewable energy sector and in the decommissioning of gas platforms, with potential future offshore private sector investment estimated to reach more than £50bn over the next 20 years.
Great Yarmouth port director Richard Goffin said investment in transport infrastructure is an essential to unlocking Yarmouth's potential.
He added: 'The ability to attract opportunities will not only benefit existing businesses but also the communities we serve today and the future prosperity we can deliver tomorrow.'
Borough council leader Graham Plant said Yarmouth was on the cusp of some exciting opportunities.
He enthused: 'In addition to being a top coastal resort, Great Yarmouth is England's energy sector capital and well placed to secure very significant further energy investment over the coming decade, including in the growth areas of offshore wind and gas platform decommissioning. We have already seen some really positive investment announcements.
'Investment will improve prospects for everyone in the borough over the next 10 years and beyond.
'The borough council is working closely with partners to create the best conditions to capitalise on this private investment – ensuring our borough is best placed to capture sustainable economic growth and unlock its benefits for our communities, including new jobs, homes and facilities.'
Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis has welcomed the continued investment in the coastal town.
He said: 'It's a big boost, making a huge difference to our infrastructure. We have secured £10m for safety improvements to the Acle Straight and £30m to improve Vauxhall Roundabout. With the Third River Crossing, this would do a lot to tackle the traffic problems in the town. That will give us the position to then argue for dualling.'
Restaurateur Miriam Kikis has called for investment in the town for years, particularly near the town's railway station.
She said: 'Hopefully all these changes will encourage investment in the town which is badly needed to create employment and will help with attracting visitors to our town and create prosperity.
'I hope in ten years time Great Yarmouth will be prosperous and great again.'
Vauxhall and Gapton roundabouts - A £30m fund has been granted by the Department of Transport (DfT) to reconstruct and consider the junction at the end of the Acle Straight and the roundabout at Gapton Hall.
Train station - The area around Great Yarmouth's rail station area is set for a £2m makeover including the station forecourt and the route to the Market Place via The Conge.
Outer Harbour - The port has been chosen as the assembly and installation base for the 56-turbine Galloper offshore wind farm including infrastructure to support the work and the installation of heavy lift quay facilities, as well as ScottishPower Renewables' £2.5bn East Anglia ONE offshore windfarm. Offshore oil platform decommissioning work will also begin in Great Yarmouth this spring after the town's Veolia-Peterson partnership was awarded two major contracts.
Enterprise zones - Beacon Park was established as a business hub in 2011. The status gives businesses on the site five years business rate exemption, and facilities include superfast broadband and fast track planning. Beacon Park comprises 25 acres of mixed office, industrial and leisure development in Gorleston. There is also an energy zone in South Denes.
The Edge - On the seafront, a scheme to build a £5m Premier Inn hotel, cinema and the region's only large casino is taking shape, after a decade long delay. The proposed development consists of five individual restaurants, an indoor play centre, a large piazza with al fresco eating and car parking.
Hollywood Cinema - Plans to rejuvenate the Hollywood Cinema on the seafront were announced to restore the 120 year old former aquarium and build a new restaurant
Indoor market - In August a huge blaze engulfed the Regent Bowl and Indoor Market in Regent Road and now the site's owner has put in a planning bid to the borough council to build 49 apartments on top of a new indoor market and leisure facility.
Cinema - The borough council has launched a public consultation into its masterplan to regenerate the town centre with plans for a cinema and leisure complex with cafes, bars and restaurants and a Market Place performance space.