Is Riverside set to become Norwich's new 'party town'?
- Credit: Burhill Group Limited
A new multi-million pound entertainment venue and droves of swanky new flats could put Norwich's Riverside area on the map as the city's new partying hotspot.
Experts believe the regeneration of the hospitality hub could provide a more "sedate" night out for 20-somethings looking to meet up with friends.
The creation of a new mini 'party town' would relieve pressure on the likes of Prince of Wales Road, stakeholders added.
It comes after LS Leisure Parks Investments announced a Mulligans or Bunkers activity arena will be moving into Wherry Road in place of the Riverbank Chinese Buffet and Fatso's.
This will include 24 holes of crazy golf, ping pong, electro-darts and shuffleboard as well as a bar and a restaurant.
Professor Josh Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research in Norwich, believes the addition will attract more youngsters to the party zone of the city.
He said: "Riverside is already an area known in its own right but these new additions will ensure it continues to attract young people.
"There are a lot of options for food and booze as well as a cinema and now leisure experiences.
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"It could see some more bars or clubs and that would relieve some pressure on the Prince of Wales Road which needs to be done.
"The latter has a bit of a reputation for being somewhat wild. Riverside could provide a more sedate option.
"Given the spread of activities visitors would also be less likely to just meet up at night - there's something to do in the day time as well.
"There would be a shift away from the monoculture we see in Prince of Wales Road."
The applicant behind Riverside's new activity venture - Neil Higson of LS Leisure Parks Investments - was granted planning permission for the venue by Norwich City Council in December.
Student nights will also take place at the venue which is expected to open in the winter.
Prof. Bamfield believes the move reflects a growing trend in large towns and cities across the UK.
He said: "This is part of a widescale strategy where straightforward restaurants and shopping are being replaced partly by places offering an experience as well as a restaurant and bar.
"Riverside is a lovely area but it's separated from the rest of the city centre. It's not like Gentleman's Walk where you can look around some shops then go to a bar."
However the hub will soon have a bigger customer catchment area courtesy of the likes of the new Carrow Works housing development.
The redevelopment of the former Colman's and Britvic Carrow Works site forms part of the East Norwich Masterplan regeneration of the area which council bosses say could create 3,600 homes and 6,000 jobs.
Ben Price, city and county councillor for the Thorpe Hamlet ward and leader of the Green group at Norfolk County Council, has welcomed the addition of the new venue in Wherry Road.
He said: "This entertainment facility reflects the changing trends of how people wish to spend their leisure time.
"It increases the range on offer in the city, making it more attractive to visitors and Norwich people, helping to grow the city's economy."
Riverside already offers a range of entertainment options including a trampoline park, bowling alley, cinema and gym.
Sophie Burke, group head of marketing for the group behind the new venture added: "This is very much for families during the day and then adults and students alike in the evening.
"We want to inject some fun for all in a vibrant city."
Not everyone is convinced by the addition of another golf course - however many agreed the differentiation between Riverside and Prince of Wales Road is welcome.
Richard Chisnell, owner of the Sherbert Lemon cocktail bar in Prince of Wales Road, said: "The Castle Quarter has indoor golf for example. But I suppose it makes sense to have it all in one area where possible.
"Prince of Wales is more of an end of the night place whereas Riverside will be more daytime."