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Mystery backers help revive £370m Generation Park scheme in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 06:30 22 April 2016 | UPDATED: 09:03 25 April 2016

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.

2011 Grimshaw Architects

Controversial proposals for a £370m energy park on the edge of Norwich city centre have today been revived after an investment injection by mystery backers.

The future of Generation Park looked uncertain after Norwich Powerhouse, set up to oversee its creation on land between Thorpe St Andrew and Whitlingham, revealed it was struggling to secure investment.

But project initiator Prof Trevor Davies today revealed a group of businessmen had come forward to provide investment, which should enable decisions on whether the scheme should get planning permission.

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, had been put on hold, with £3m owed to creditors.

Norwich City Council and the Broads Authority, which are due to consider whether to grant planning permission recently issued an ultimatum to the developers.

Information, including about flood risk, had been sought through the planning process, but a lack of money meant the developers could not commission reports.

The authorities urged the developers to provide assurance those reports would be commissioned, to withdraw the application or to risk planning committees making decisions without the key information - which would almost certainly have seen the plans turned down.

But Prof Davies, former pro-vice chancellor for research, enterprise and engagement at the University of East Anglia, which has put £2.25m into the project, said: “Norwich Powerhouse has sent a letter to the city council and the Broads Authority saying we have secured the next stage of funding and will be continuing with the planning process.

“The funding is being provided by a small group of local businessmen. There are experienced and successful businessmen who want to remain anonymous.

“They bring the right range of skills to bring this forward and we are having discussions with this group to take it further forward if the planning application is successful.”

Prof Davies said the reports which the council and Broads Authority had requested had now been commissioned and he hoped the application could be progressed “as quickly as possible”.

The proposal, with its 90m-tall chimney, has drawn criticism, with concerns over the environmental and visual impact on the surrounding area once the 30-acre development is built.

Campaigners, including from the group Say No To Generation Park have expressed concerns about possible pollution from the plant.

The developers have always said the height of the chimney would mean emissions would be at a very high level, dispersed far away from the city.

More than 250 people have objected to the application.

• 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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