'A huge step forward' - Business leaders and MPs welcome approval of Nar Ouse Business Park first phase
PUBLISHED: 10:10 06 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:10 06 November 2018
The first phase of a scheme which could bring thousands of new jobs to west Norfolk has been described as “a huge step forward” for the area.
The opening stages of a plan to regenerate land off Wisbech Road in King’s Lynn into a business park were approved by West Norfolk Council on Monday, which will see the project’s first three units built.
The plans are part of the Nar Ouse Regeneration Area scheme, which has been designed with the goal of creating an enterprise zone to attract thousands of new jobs to the area.
This phase sets out 10,000sq/ft of office space and 30,000sq/ft of light industrial space across three buildings, along with an access road off the existing Nar Ouse Way roundabout.
With the reserved matters application for these aspects approved, it is hoped building work can get under way mid-2019.
Jemma Curtis, the council’s regeneration and programmes manager, said: “This is a huge step forward. The space has been there but for various issues around access and funding have been there, but now the proposal has been approved we can move forward.
“It will be hugely significant for the area as it is one of the largest sites available in west Norfolk for this kind of development with the potential of eventually providing some 2000 jobs.”
Mrs Curtis said there had already been expressions of interest in the area from around five different businesses, both in taking on new units and in freehold land.
While Monday’s decision only initially concerns three units, it could pave the way for dozens more if the initial stage provides a success.
The masterplan for the Nar Ouse Enterprise Zone states the ambition is to build 56 new business units, providing a mixture of light industrial and office space.
A report put before the planning committee said: “Whilst the enterprise zone lies on the southern edge of King’s Lynn, it will become an important part of the wider urban area, providing a significant gateway to the town when accessed from the south.”
Mrs Curtis said it was hoped the new units will be completed and occupied by 2020.
The decision to push ahead with the scheme has been welcomed by business leaders and MPs alike.
Sir Henry Bellingham, MP for north west Norfolk, said the scheme could be a key factor in the campaign to dual the entire A47.
He said: “I think there is no question that this development adds some real strength to the calls for the A47 dualling.
“This will really reinforce the need for the whole road to be dualled and will significantly help support the campaign.”
Mr Bellingham said it was “excellent news” for both the King’s Lynn area and the county.
He added: “This decision is symbolic for the overall scheme. It was very important that it went through smoothly and is sending out a very strong message that the site has a real future.”
The decision has also been greeted favourably by business leaders, who see it as a promising development for the county.
Vicky Etheridge, manager of the King’s Lynn Business Improvement District, said: “It is exciting times and thing seem to be moving which is really good the hear.
“It could mean really great things for King’s Lynn - it’s all about bringing in new businesses or encouraging growth in others, which is very positive.
“This will hopefully then create a knock-on effect that will help promote the town centre, with potential to encourage growth there and show just how much King’s Lynn has to offer.”
Ms Etheridge added that the scheme should bring further benefits for the county as a whole.
She added: “I understand there is already interest in the site from businesses from out of the county, so that can only be a positive thing for the county of Norfolk.”
Michael Baldwin, president of the chamber of commerce in west Norfolk, said: “Norfolk Chamber strongly welcomes the borough council’s planning decision for the first stage of the Nar Ouse Business Park.
“This is a significant step forward to delivering a high quality employment site that is expected to support approximately 2,000 jobs, once fully complete.
“The Nar Ouse Business Park will offer a wide range of employment opportunities for Lynn and the surrounding area. This, together with its excellent location, close to key transport routes, will help deliver increased economic growth for the region.”
History of the scheme
The Nar Ouse Regeneration Area is a parcel of land on the edge of King’s Lynn, close to Nar Ouse Way and Wisbech Road.
The 120 acre was first earmarked for development more than a decade ago, with a mixture of business and residential buildings proposed.
The business aspect of the regeneration is an ambitious project known as the Nar Ouse Enterprise Zone (NOEZ), of which this application is the first phase.
The project is a collaboration between West Norfolk Council, Norfolk County Council and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and aims to deliver some 2,000 new jobs in the area.
The plans have been touted for more than a decade, with outline planning permission for the project having been in place since February 2007.
However, a series of restraints around funding and infrastructure have meant it is yet to come to fruition.
Thus far, just one building has been completed in the NOEZ, the King’s Lynn Innovation Centre, which opened in June 2017.
Earlier this year, contractors began gasworks to allow access roads and drainage to be provided for the business park, in a £2m scheme.