Flooding fears raised over development of 4,000 homes
- Credit: Fuel Properties
Ways to head off the risk of flooding will be needed in part of Norwich earmarked for thousands of new homes, consultants spearheading the scheme have said.
Work has begun to draw up a masterplan for the East Norwich area - a blueprint to guide development of a number of major city sites, where 4,000 homes and 6,000 jobs could be created.
That includes the former Colman's and Britvic Carrow Works site, the Deal Ground/May Gurney site at Trowse and the Utilities Site between Thorpe Hamlet and Whitlingham.
Last month, consultants Avison Young were appointed by Norwich City Council's cabinet to produce the £500,000 masterplan for the area.
But, at a meeting of Norwich City Council's sustainable development panel, held virtually on Thursday, questions were asked about the flood risks in the area.
Lesley Grahame, Green city councillor for Thorpe Hamlet, said: "I just wonder if sufficient attention has been or will be paid to flood risk in this area?"
Martyn Saunders, from consultants Avison Young, said that before urban designers were "let loose with their pens", the technical challenges of the site will be carefully analysed to figure out mitigation strategies.
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He said he was "absolutely more than aware" of the flood risk and that previous work had looked at creating open space to act as a flood plain.
He said: "We want to look at how we make that part of the character of the development and actually turning that on its head and saying 'if we are going to manage flood risk, how do we turn that into a positive for the site?"
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He said businesses could be attracted to an area which offers open space and water features.
Mr Saunders said: "What we know from businesses is they are looking for locations which talk to the wellness agenda."
Judith Lubbock, Liberal Democrat city councillor for Eaton, said she hoped the development would be covered by a blanket 20mph speed limit.
Mike Stonard, Labour chairman of the panel, confirmed that it would be, as per city council policy.
The city council received £25m from the government's Towns Fund bid to kickstart the East Norwich area development.
A public/private partnership called the East Norwich Partnership, has been created to help develop the area.
The first stage of work to prepare the masterplan will involve talking to landowners, people who live nearby, businesses, councillors and community groups to come up with an overall concept.
With the various parcels of land under different ownerships, the idea is that the masterplan will help bring together development - and unlock funding for the ambitious scheme to go ahead.
London-based Fuel Properties intends to pump £40m into redeveloping the 31 acre Carrow Works site.
The company, which was set up in 2018 to acquire brownfield land, says redeveloping that site, following the closure of the Colman's and Britvic factories, will create more than 2,000 homes and 1,500 jobs.
They said it would be residential-led, but with 250,000 square foot of commercial and employment space and new leisure facilities.
And businessman Andre Serruys, who heads SPC Holdings, which owns the Deal Ground, has plans for at least 1,600 new homes centred around a marina.
Mr Serruys secured planning permission in 2013 to build at the Deal Ground and nearby former May Gurney site, but challenges with the site meant the work stalled.
One of the aims of the partnership is to sort out the issue of Trowse swing bridge, which impedes access to the area earmarked for development.
The railway line over the bridge, which opens to allow access to the historic port of Norwich is single track, but studies are exploring whether that could be made double track, with Trowse junction remodelled.
That would improve capacity - and speed - of trains to Norwich, but also enable easier access to development areas, such as the Deal Ground and Utilities site.
And Norwich City Council has bought nearby Carrow House to rent out to businesses.
The council is using £4.1m of money it got from the government to buy Carrow House from Norfolk County Council and to refurbish it.
City council leaders said the purchase of the 1860s King Street house, once home to the Colman family, was a key part of the regeneration of the East Norwich area - and could have become a 'ransom strip' had they not bought it.