New country park for Norfolk among wishlist of schemes to boost county economy
- Credit: copyright: Archant 2014
A new country park, a project to support the off-shore energy industry and a “once in a lifetime” chance to create thousands of new homes and jobs are among schemes hailed as potential boosts to Norfolk’s economy.
Council and business leaders are set to add those projects, along with a mooted institute to “push the boundaries of leading science research”, to a blueprint of where investment should be focused in Norfolk over the next decade.
The schemes are those which Norfolk County Council, the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and district councils see as most crucial to improving the county’s infrastructure - helping create jobs, new homes and boosting the economy.
Projects such as the Northern Distributor Road Western Link Road, Long Stratton Bypass, Broadland Business Park railway station and schemes to boost electricity supplies in Thetford, Attleborough and Snetterton are already in the Norfolk Strategic Infrastructure Delivery Plan.
But four new projects are proposed to be added to the plan - which Graham Plant, the council’s cabinet member for growing the economy, described as sending “a clear message of Norfolk’s strategic infrastructure needs to government and its agencies”.
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The new projects in the draft of the plan, which is due to agreed early in the new year, are:
Burlingham Country Park
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Norfolk County Council owns the 3,000 acre Burlingham Estate, near Acle, and has been discussing how best to use the site for several years.
It could become a new country park, with the council saying it wants to “take an innovative approach to the way new community recreational spaces are conceived and designed.
Officers said: “It is no longer enough to just provide open space for people, green space must be multifunctional and deliver on many levels.
“The space must improve health and wellbeing, mitigate for climate change and biodiversity loss, be easily accessible by public transport, benefit the economy of the local area as well as alleviating recreational pressure on nearby designated areas and finally provide a legacy that can also be valued by future generations.”
Some £60,000 is to be drawn from pooled business rates to carry out a feasibility study and, pending that, the park could be created using developer funding, community infrastructure levy cash and County Hall money. No overall cost has yet been calculated.
East Norwich Regeneration Area
Half a million pounds is being spent on a masterplan for this area - which includes the former Colman’s/Britvic sites at Carrow Works, the Deal Ground and the Utilities Ground to the east of Norwich.
The recent award of £25m to Norwich City Council through the government’s Towns Fund will help drive proposals to redevelop the area with 4,000 homes and 6,000 jobs.
Matt Tracey, growth and infrastructure manager at Norfolk County Council, said: “It’s something that has the potential to be a once in a lifetime opportunity for Norfolk.”
However, the success of hopes for the future development of the area, between Trowse, Whitlingham and Thorpe St Andrew, will hinge on improvements to Trowse swing bridge, which hinders access.
Great Yarmouth Operations and Maintenance Campus
Costing up to £10.4m, and having been awarded £6m from the government, the creation of the campus at South Denes in Great Yarmouth, specificially to serve the offshore energy industry, would create 650 jobs.
The idea is that it would make Norfolk a hotbed for the offshore energy industry, described by council officers as “arguably the single most important economic opportunity for a generation”.
Smart Emerging Technology Institute (SETI)
Led by the University of East Anglia, this would be a ‘virtual institute’ which officers say would be a “science, technology and business asset for the region that will push the boundaries of leading science research”.
It would aim to create the “fastest collaborative research testbed in Europe”, bringing together the best of the region’s experts in research and innovation.
An initial feasibility study has been completed and funding sources, including from the UEA, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, South Norfolk Council and Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor, identified.