Broads' World Heritage bid agreed

The first step towards elevating the Norfolk Broads to World Heritage status was enthusiastically approved yesterday at a meeting of the Broads Authority.

The first step towards elevating the Norfolk Broads to World Heritage status was enthusiastically approved today at a meeting of the Broads Authority.

Members unanimously agreed that an application should be made to the British government to include the Broads on its tentative list of places meriting the accolade.

The meeting was told this would be the one chance in 15 years to bid for the status, currently enjoyed by 890 sites ranging from the Pyramids and the Great Barrier Reef abroad to Canterbury Cathedral and the Dorset and East Devon coast at home.

From its list, drawn up after the deadline for applications on June 11, the government would nominate one applicant each year to receive the status.

John Packman, chief executive of the Broads Authority, said the Broads was a very special area which deserved to be a World Heritage Site on the grounds of both its cultural and natural heritage.

And he said the cost of preparing a World Heritage Site management plan - calculated to be as much as �300,000 - would in this case be minimal because the Broads was already well supplied with management plans and its local development framework.

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He said achieving the status would greatly raise the profile of the Broads on the international stage and give a major boost to sustainable tourism.

Peter Frost led members in backing the bid, describing it as a 'tremendous thing'.

'To say it will benefit sustainable tourism is a big understatement. It will be a major contribution to enhancing the public image of the Broads right across Britain and all across the world,' he said.

He said he had spoken to people from sites recently accorded the status, including the Dorset and East Devon coast, and they were 'blown away' by the impact it had had.

Nigel Dixon raised the only concern that the June 11 deadline would give little time for public consultation and to fully understand the implications of being a World Heritage Site.

However, Dr Packman gave reassurance that if the Broads was put on the tentative list there would be plenty of time for full consultation ahead of a full application.

And he denied that being a World Heritage Site might stifle future development, for example in Great Yarmouth, as the planning protection conferred by the status was similar to that of a national park already covering the Broads.