Colney expansion plans get go-ahead
PUBLISHED: 17:00 24 February 2010 | UPDATED: 08:24 02 July 2010
The first phase of a major addition to Norfolk's world class community of scientific researchers received the go-ahead last night , despite concerns about its "piecemeal" development.
The first phase of a major addition to Norfolk's world class community of scientific researchers received the go-ahead last night , despite concerns about its “piecemeal” development.
South Norfolk Councillors “applauded” the expansion of the Norwich Research Park (NRP) at Colney, which forms part of a larger plan to create 5,000 new white collar and lab coat jobs over the next 11 years.
The approval of the East of England Development Agency's (EEDA) scheme for the Norwich Innovation Centre (NIC) comes despite a recommendation from highways chiefs that improvements for walkers and cyclists should be installed before the occupation of the new building.
However, a South Norfolk Council planning committee refused a request by the applicant's agent to extend the period of planning permission for the UEA Triangle site from three years to five.
The approval will allow EEDA to start work on the 3,900sqm incubation and innovation centre for start-up research and development companies without having to immediately pay £100,000 for a toucan crossing across the B1108 Watton Road and a new footpath and cycleway linking the extension of the NRP.
Graham Bloomfield, agent for the scheme, told councillors that his client was committed to contributing to the infrastructure works, but not to pay for the whole thing.
“It is unreasonable for plot one to bear the brunt when it benefits least from it,” he said.
The site, which is owned by the University of East Anglia, forms part of a larger development that has outline permission for four buildings with a total of 13,000sqm of floor space.
But Mr Bloomfield said there was some “uncertainty” in the current economic climate as to when the rest of the triangle site, off Colney Lane, will come forward.
Councillor Garry Wheatley welcomed the first physical expansion of the NRP in 30 years, but said all developers needed to contribute to transport and infrastructure costs.
“We are doing this piecemeal and I do not find this very satisfactory,” he said.
Bev Spratt, chairman of South Norfolk Council, added that the greenfield land was a prime site and urged the developers to get a move on.
“It is a shame that all the brains at the UEA and EEDA want five years to get this going. They do not have any problem with money. If this was a private enterprise it would be done and dusted,” he said.
Committee members approved a condition that no more development is approved on the triangle site, other than the NIC, until the footpath, cycleway and toucan crossing is funded.