Hopes to resurrect troubled Thetford Enterprise Park as council look to kickstart £6m infrastructure scheme
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016
An employment site which has been through a 30-year 'on/off' saga could be set for a new lease of life as a council considers allocating £489,000 to reignite its development.
The Thetford Enterprise Park (TEP) was first mooted 30 years ago and has since fallen through on at least two occasions.
Plans for the 44-acre site, located on land between Mundford Road and the A11 in Thetford, promise the creation of up to 2,500 jobs and an infrastructure investment of at least £6m.
Breckland Council's Cabinet is now set to discuss kickstarting the project again by dedicating the last £489,000 of money from the Moving Thetford Forward (MTF) programme to get much-needed infrastructure installed - with a lack of electricity supply the primary concern.
It meets on Tuesday, with councillors and local business groups urging it to back officers' recommendations to fund the project once and for all.
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A report to members recommends that the council use £450,000 from the recently secured Norfolk Business Rates Pool Grant, and create a 'multi-agency package' to cover the remaining shortfall.
If the recommendation is approved, the council would have the green light to negotiate with partner agencies to source the funding and deliver the TEP.
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Mike Brown, from Thetford Business Forum, has been involved in the TEP project since it was first given the go ahead in 2008.
He said it was vital to the area's growth, but only if it was designated as employment land for industries including engineering and manufacturing.
'It is long overdue and should have been completed at the time as it would have transformed Thetford.
'But we have to make sure it's all employment land, that's the key thing, otherwise it's a waste.
'With higher rates in Norwich and Cambridge, there could be an opportunity here,' he said.
Terry Jermy, Labour councillor at Breckland, said he would back the TEP, despite what he called its 'chequered past'.
'I will support it because it's probably the single biggest opportunity to create jobs on that scale in Thetford,' he said.
He added: 'I didn't support Morrisons going in there as it was retail and we need to get manufacturing and engineering jobs in that location.'
The meeting will also discuss how a number of groups in Thetford which applied for the last of the MTF money will be able to source alternative funding.
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