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Norfolk’s coast clear for a decade of growth after blueprint’s approval

PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 August 2014

The East Suffolk Growth Plan pinpoints four key growth locations and identifies the volume of new jobs expected in various sectors. Photo: Mike Page.

The East Suffolk Growth Plan pinpoints four key growth locations and identifies the volume of new jobs expected in various sectors. Photo: Mike Page.

Mike Page

Community leaders have approved a major blueprint aimed at creating 10,000 new jobs in east Suffolk over the next decade.

The four key sectors

• Ports and logistics, energy, information and communications technology and tourism are the key sectors which will create most of the 10,000 jobs needed in Suffolk Coastal and Waveney over the next decade.

• The industries are said to be “critical to future economic growth” and their continuing strength and development is vital to the east Suffolk economy. • Wind farms off the county’s coast – if all are approved – are said to have the potential to create 13,000 jobs in the decades ahead, while the Port of Felixstowe is expected to generate 1,400, and Sizewell C would employ 25,000 workers over its nine-year construction period.

• The two district councils are pledging to develop the key sectors by using the new Suffolk Inward Investment service to target the opportunities provided by “ready to go” sites to attract investment and support business growth; simplify the approach to planning, where possible, and unblock unnecessary barriers to development; and consider targeted business rate relief.

• They will also work in partnership with towns and market towns to maximise their opportunities as “engines for growth”, and provide help with workforce planning, recruitment and supply chain development

But they admit it will not be easy with a number of challenges to overcome, including inadequate road and rail networks and utilities provision, worries over flooding, and skills gaps and, in Waveney in particular, poor educational attainment.

With the area’s population set to increase by 33,000 over the next 20 years, jobs, infrastructure investment and housing are the most pressing priorities.

Leaders of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney district councils, Ray Herring and Colin Law, said the East Suffolk Growth Plan aimed to build more prosperity in the area, maintaining and improving quality of life while encouraging sustainable growth.

It was hoped to create 900 new enterprises by 2025.

Many of the new jobs will be in four new ‘Tier 1’ growth locations identified by the plan – Felixstowe and the A14 corridor; Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Enterprise Zone; Sizewell; and Greater Ipswich, including Martlesham.

These locations are expected to deliver around 2,000 jobs over and above those already anticipated from existing businesses, and bring forward a steady pipeline of development sites to enable employment growth.

Mr Herring said: “The outlook for the future is positive but we cannot take prosperity for granted.

“We are ambitious for east Suffolk and this growth plan identifies how we will achieve sustainable economic and housing growth through the rest of this decade and into the next.”

The plan is the work of the East Suffolk Growth Group, established to provide strategic direction to the economic growth of east Suffolk and which published its initial ideas in the spring.

Andy Smith, deputy leader of Suffolk Coastal and cabinet member with responsibility for economic development, said: “We had a good response to the consultation, particularly from local businesses and business associations.

“One of the things that came across very clearly is that the small businesses are passionate about 
the communities that they are based in. They are committed to developing their businesses within their communities to improve the local economy for everyone’s benefit.

“The plan is aimed at attracting and supporting strong businesses to east Suffolk by creating the right environment for a sustainable, growing economy.”

Bruce Provan, Waveney cabinet member with responsibility for tourism and economic development, 
said: “The plan lays out the growth ambitions for the area, while recognising that east Suffolk is a unique place, with distinct economic strengths. We need to harness that strength, linking into the county-wide, regional and national plans, to build for the future. Now the challenge is start implementing the plan’s recommendations to create the right conditions to encourage growth. If we do our job right, as councils, we can generate more wealth in the area, through helping businesses grow, creating 10,000 new jobs.”

• What do you think? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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Caroline Culot

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