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Revealed: How Norwich hopes to make more of the Wensum with new bridges and paths

PUBLISHED: 11:06 29 February 2016 | UPDATED: 14:30 29 February 2016

Riverside Walk. View from Duke Street bridge, Norwich towards St Georges Street. Photo : Steve Adams

Riverside Walk. View from Duke Street bridge, Norwich towards St Georges Street. Photo : Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2016

The ‘missing’ sections of Norwich’s Riverside walk could be plugged through a blueprint to breathe new life into the city’s river Wensum.

Lottery cash and money from housing developments will be sought to help put the river back at the heart of life in Norwich.

New habitats for wildlife, more access points for canoeists to get to the river, new bridges and the use of water source heat pumps to generate power are also mooted as part of the drive to unlock its full potential.

After years of calls for more to be done to make more of the river, a string of organisations joined forces to do just that.

Norwich City Council is leading the development of a joint strategy for the river, working in partnership with the Broads Authority, Norfolk County Council, Environment Agency and the Wensum River Parkway Partnership.

The strategy aims to manage the River Wensum and surrounding area for the benefit of the city and its residents, while also increasing access to, and use of, the river itself.

They want to use the river as a focus for tourism, leisure and business and last year, started working up a strategy for the river, which included public consultation.

A draft strategy is now emerging, which will be put out for public consultation in the summer - and further detail of what could be done has been revealed.

One of the aspirations is to complete the missing links on the city’s Riverside walk. There are currently key missing links around The Playhouse, between St George’s Bridge and Duke Street bridge and on Fishergate, between Fye Bridge and Whitefriars.

It has also been suggested the Riverside walk could link to the Marriott’s Way and Wherryman’s Way, with new bridge links in east Norwich over the Wensum and Yare as part of potential developments at the Utilities and Deal ground sites.

One of the key objectives of the strategy is to encourage more small craft on the river.

A report drawn up by city council officers states: “The lack of activity on the river is evident to anyone walking along the riverside walk and there is potential to increase this to deliver a vibrant and attractive river corridor.

“One of the barriers to this is the relative lack of existing river infrastructure suitable for use by canoes and small boats in a range of locations.”

It is proposed to create new canoe launch points, better mooring facilities and to make clear the potential uses of parts of the riverbank, so, for example, angling and mooring does not clash.

Another emerging proposal is to create more habitats. That could focus on local nature reserves and county wildlife sites upstream of New Mills, but also on sites in the city centre. Floating planters could be attached to pontoons to create new habitats.

And the potential for renewable energy generation, such as from water source heat pumps could be explored.

City councillor Mike Stonard, chair of the River Wensum strategy partnership, said: “Following our public consultation last year, the partnership has been working closely together and with relevant stakeholders as we draw up the detail of a strategy for the River Wensum.

“When we consult on the draft document this summer, we’ll be asking for feedback on the specific measures being proposed.

“Through a combination of partners’ expertise and local knowledge, we’ll be putting in place a plan to make tangible improvements

to the river. “This will bring benefits not just to visitors and residents, but local businesses and the natural environment, too.”

Potential sources of funding include Heritage Lottery cash, money from the Local Enterprise Partnership and community infrastructure levy cash - which is essentially a tax on new homes which are built.

How would you like to see the River Wensum improved? Leave your comments below.

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