Race is on to set up enterprise zone

Norwich could be set to go head to head with Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft in the race to set up a new enterprise zone in the region.

The government last week unveiled the first wave of 10 areas to become new enterprise zones, based on larger urban areas, and said there would be a competition for the second wave of 11 smaller areas.

That has sparked expressions of interest from Norwich's two MPs Chloe Smith and Simon Wright, for the city to be part of any subsequent bid. Meanwhile, Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis and Waveney's Peter Aldous are also lobbying for Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth to be included.

The new zones will benefit from extra funding, tax breaks, and a simplified planning system, and access to hi-speed broadband to help kickstart new jobs.

And given the limited number of places available to become enterprise zones, it is unlikely that ministers will back two proposals in such close proximity.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has also entered the debate hinting that Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft could be well-placed for inclusion.

However, much will rest on which area secures the backing of the New Anglia local enterprise partnership, which will have to submit a bid to government as part of a competitive tendering process.

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Peter Barry, co-chairman of New Anglia, said that currently both areas are being considered, and added: 'We are supporting those and if we had an opportunity to do more, we would.

'But we have to be mindful that the government is only talking about 11 more, so it's going to be quite competitive.'

Laura McGillvray, chief executive of Norwich City Council, said an enterprise zone in the city would build on last week's announcement of �26m for Norwich Research Park, and help to create a wide range of new jobs.

Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk and Norwich Chamber of Commerce: 'Any of our urban areas – it could be Norwich, King's Lynn or Great Yarmouth – could be in the running.'

Enterprise Zones will be geographically defined areas, agreed between the local enterprise partnership and Government. There is no single size for an Enterprise Zone, but there are clearly limits imposed by the levels of funding that Government has been able to set aside to support the Zones. The Government anticipates that most Enterprise Zones would be broadly 50 – 150 hectares, although this will depend on a range of factors.