River festival, more boat moorings and completion of missing walkways proposed in bold new vision for Norwich’s River Wensum

The River Wensum in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The River Wensum in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

New walkways, a river festival and improved moorings for canoes have been proposed to breathe 'new life' into the River Wensum.

The action plan for the River Wensum. Image: Norwich City Council

The action plan for the River Wensum. Image: Norwich City Council - Credit: Archant

The ideas are all part of a new vision to enhance the stretch of waterway through Norwich and encourage more people to use it.

Dubbed the River Wensum Strategy, it outlines a series of improvements which could be implemented in the next 10 years.

The draft proposals, which have been revealed by Norwich City Council today, include:

• Completion of the riverside walk between New Mills and Trowse Swing Bridge, including construction of key 'missing links' of walkway.

Kayaks on the Wensum. Picture: Denise Bradley

Kayaks on the Wensum. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

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• Promotion of more events, including a new river festival in the next two years.

• An improved cycle crossing at the Barn Road roundabout to encourage greater usage of Marriott's Way.

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• New short-stay visitor moorings proposed for locations including Quayside, between Carrow Bridge and Lady Julian Bridge.

• Improved river infrastructure to support new boat and canoe hire businesses.

• Enhancement of angling access and fish habitats.

The draft strategy was put together by a partnership which included the city council and environment agency. It aims to addressthe limited activity currently taking place on the Wensum.

As well as a long-term 10-year strategy, it includes an action plan, which outlines various schemes which could be completed in around three years.

People are being invited to share their views on the current draft strategy at Blackfriars Hall today to mark the start of the public consultation.

It is envisaged that the final strategy will be adopted in late 2017 to early 2018.

Mike Stonard, the city council's cabinet member for sustainable and inclusive growth, said: 'The draft strategy reflects various aspirations and sets out possible ways to revitalise the river corridor with improved access and a high quality environment so we very much want to hear people's views on it.'

The draft strategy and a questionnaire for the public to fill out is available at www.norwich.gov.uk/riverwensum

The consultation will run from today to September 15.

River festivals and tourism

The strategy states that the tourism potential of the River Wensum is largely 'untapped'.

To rectify this, it proposes to make a series of improvements to the river's slipways and launching points to encourage more boat hire businesses.

The Friar's Quay slipway is due to be upgraded to reduce its slope, while the timber jetty on the upstream end of the Norwich Yacht Station will be replaced with pontoons, which could then be used by a small electric hire boat business.

There are also plans to install new pontoon access points upstream and downstream of New Mills for canoes, as well as at Elm Hill Quay.

The strategy also hints at the creation of a river festival to raise the profile of the Wensum.

It would include a 'range of water-based activities, encouraging local involvement through drama and art events'.

Should it receive funding it could be held next year.

Pumping station could become a museum

Several long-term projects have been identified in the document, which could be made possible in the future.

It is suggested that the Grade II listed New Mills Yard Pumping Station could one day be used for power generation, a leisure hub, or as a museum or exhibition space.

Meanwhile, it is proposed that an open air swimming pool could potentially be reopened at Wensum Park, subject to water quality issues being addressed.

The strategy said there was also an opportunity to create an access point to the river for canoes and new moorings.

The Boom Towers, adjacent to Carrow Bridge and the wooden ridge near Ber Street could also be enhanced in the future. It is proposed that an urban woodland park could be created to link the woodland walks that connect the towers next to Carrow Bridge to Ber street.

Meanwhile, the future redevelopment of Mary Chapman Court could include a riverside cafe or restaurant.

Riverside Walk could stretch to Whitlingham Country Park

One of the strategy's main ambitions is to complete the Riverside Walk, which was originally envisaged more than 40 years ago.

It states that key missing sections of the route between new New Mills Yard and Trowse Swing Bridge will be completed during the strategy period by 2027.

'Opportunities' will also be taken to complete the missing section out to Whitlingham Country Park in Trowse, as well as upstream of New Mills Yard, near to Sweetbriar Road.

The strategy's key priority for the route is to complete the missing link between Duke's Palace Bridge and St George's Bridge.

It noted that a new section of walkway between both locations could be possible on the river's southern bank.

Meanwhile, the strategy could also see the missing links between Fye Bridge and Whitefriars Bridge, Foundry Bridge to Carrow Bridge, and Carrow Bridge to Whitlingham Broad completed.

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