Technology corridor vision for A11 could bring thousands of jobs to region

The A11 looking towards Norwich from the Elveden bridge.

The A11 looking towards Norwich from the Elveden bridge. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

Thousands of highly-skilled jobs and more than £500m could be added to the regional economy if a bold vision to create a technology corridor along the A11 gets the go ahead.

Experts have carried out a study into ways to maximise the economic impact of the recent dualling of the A11, and have suggested the area between Norwich and Newmarket could become a centre for innovation and technology, particularly in the fields of engineering, agriculture and manufacturing.

Their report, the A11 Growth Corridor Feasibility Study, which was commissioned by South Norfolk, Breckland and Forest Heath councils, identifies 11 locations along the corridor, where such growth should be focused.

Key recommendations in the study include developing a northern technology growth hub at Hethel, linked to the Norwich Research Park, a central technology hub at the planned for Thetford Enterprise Park and a southern technology growth hub at Kings Warren in Red Lodge, in Suffolk.

The initiative, the report claims, could deliver '9,000 well-paid jobs' and 'will add £558 million to the regional economy'. It will also create 708,000sqm of industrial and commercial floor space, and 20,000 new homes.

Funding will be sought from the New Anglia Growth Deal, the New Anglia and Greater Cambridge and Peterborough LEPS and European funds.

John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council, said: 'This is great news for the region and a fantastic opportunity to create thousands of new jobs, but it's not just about the A11, it's also about improved rail links with Cambridge and linking areas of technological excellence.

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'It's also about creating economic growth in the countryside, not just the cities.'

Valerie Watson-Brown, of Attleborough and Snetterton Business Forum, said: 'It is encouraging to see the three district councils working together to develop an economic strategy for the corridor and actively seeking funding to support it.

'Businesses are keen to see all development, whether housing or commercial, driven with a focus on employment. The project must address the need to attract the right types of businesses to the area and provide an environment where people will want to work, rest and play.

'This is a great opportunity to grow the local economy and one the business community looks forward to seeing progress.'

The plan will be discussed by South Norfolk Council's growth and communities policy committee on Thursday.

Are you setting up a technology business? Email rebecca.murphy@archant.co.uk