Masterplan driven by nostalgic affinity
RICHARD BATSON Developer Richard Davies' vision for Coltishall is driven by a nostalgic affinity with the former airbase - and an ambition to help his home county deliver an eco-friendly, hi-tech business scheme.
Developer Richard Davies' vision for Coltishall is driven by a nostalgic affinity with the former airbase - and an ambition to help his home county deliver an eco-friendly, hi-tech business scheme.
The 60-year-old son of a north Norfolk fisherman has a track record of major housing developments in the area, including his flagship £25m luxury apartments scheme at Sheringham House, along with smaller projects at Richmond Court Gardens and Sutherland House at Cromer.
And he hit the headlines two years ago with his radical suggestion that a Cromer town council office refurbishment funding problem could be solved by letting him build a 110ft tall sail-shaped block of apartments, like the Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai, in the clifftop grounds.
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He is a keen flyer, has taken the controls of a Spitfire in the past and used to attend airshows at Coltishall as an air cadet.
"I have always liked aircraft and Coltishall has always been part of my life," he explained.
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"I am doing it because I believe Coltishall needs a masterplan, because the local economy needs it and because I care.
"I am fed up going around Europe and seeing other countries ahead of us when it comes to high technology industry and eco-friendly design.
"I have got the energy, vision and determination to make this a world class development."
Mr Davies, who said he had already ploughed large sums of money into the venture, added: "I am not inspired by money. I put other things before that. Somebody has got to do it. It is such a fantastic opportunity. I like my Norfolk and I want to retain its character.
It also fitted into the East of England Development Agency's draft regional economic strategy, announced at the weekend, which sought to create an "an ideas-driven region, that is internationally competitive…. and is in the forefront of the low-carbon economy."
Businesses using emerging and traditional technologies, ranging from IT to thatching, were aimed at raising the employment aspirations of local people.
There would be starter units and the site would be an attractive place for businesses wanting to relocate from the city.
Up to half the housing would be affordable, to help locals on low wages struggling to get on the property ladder in an area where house prices are inflated by second homes.
Three-fifths of the site would remain open space and the station's second world war control tower and aircraft pad blast walls would be kept to retain its history.
There were hopes to bring back the station's memorabilia to a museum on the complex.
The creation of a new broad was challenging but technically possible, said Mr Davies. A dossier about the project says it would provide a mosaic of habitats.