Ultimatum delivered over Norwich’s Generation Park project

Architects' image of what the proposed Generation Park in Norwich would look like.

Architects' image of what the proposed Generation Park in Norwich would look like. - Credit: Archant

The developers behind a £370m energy park on the edge of Norwich city centre have been issued with a make-or-break ultimatum over their plans for the controversial proposal.

Norwich Powerhouse, set up to oversee the creation of Generation Park, between Thorpe St Andrew and Whitlingham, revealed at the end of November it was struggling to secure investment and called in an insolvency practitioner. The project, due to include a straw pellet-burning plant, 120 new homes, student accommodation, an education centre, a research base, 11 acres of parkland, plus new cycle routes and walkways, was effectively mothballed.

However, the plans lodged with Norwich City Council and the Broads Authority have yet to be withdrawn and the developers have been warned they could go to planning committees within months.

And, if the plans do come before councillors, they would almost certainly be turned down - because key information which had been requested by officers has not been provided.

Key detail the authorities asked for in November last year included an assessment of flood risk. But they have not been made available, because the developers had no money to commission reports.

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A joint letter just sent to Norwich Powerhouse by Norwich City Council and the Broads Authority states: 'Whilst we appreciate that you have been seeking further investment to overcome financial difficulties I am sure you will also appreciate that we are unable to allow the application to remain pending indefinitely.

'As such, we would require that by April 22, you either confirm that you have re-instructed consultants to respond to our letter of November 4 or confirm that you will be withdrawing the application.

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'Failing this we will have no choice but to progress the application towards determination based on the information currently before us and we will report the application to subsequent meetings of each authority's planning application committees in the next few months.'

The project had been backed by the UEA, which put £2.25m into the project, and energy company E.on, which had put in £1.4m.

But, after the board called in an insolvency practitioner, a Company Voluntary Arrangement was approved. Its creditors have agreed to get back 33p for every pound they invested.

That left the door open for the project to be resurrected if an investor comes forward in the future, but it would be a blot in the copybook if the current plans were to be rejected.

A spokesman for insolvency practitioner McTear, Williams and Wood confirmed he was aware of the letter which the council had sent to Norwich Powerhouse.

• What do you think? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor. Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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