Row escalates over car parking

Earlham Hall

Earlham Hall - Credit: Archant

A row is escalating over plans to cut the number of public parking spaces at Earlham Park to make way for a £15.9m enterprise centre at Norwich Research Park.

The University of East Anglia plans to renovate Earlham Hall and construct what would be the country's greenest building, but about half the spaces would be reserved for the new centre.

The Evening News has already reported many dog walkers who use the car park are against the plans and dozens of people have taken to social network site Streetlife to voice concerns. Concerns have also being posted on Norwich City Council's planning website.

Shirley Jones posted: 'This car park has been used for years by the public who walk in the park and use the cafe or even walk to the Sainsbury Centre to see exhibitions.'

Another person, who did not wish to be named, said: 'Whilst I'm glad to see this lovely building being renovated I deplore the proposed plans to annex part of the Earlham Park car park for visitors to the new centre.

'It is one of the few public facilities that allow easy level access for disabled users to enjoy open spaces with their family and pets. I can foresee able-bodied people using the few designated disabled parking bays if capacity is reduced. The trade of the wonderful cafe in the park is certain to decline.'

The planning application for the enterprise centre – including teaching rooms, lecture theatre, exhibition space and a business 'hatchery' where as many as 25 fledgling low-carbon firms could be nurtured – will be considered by Norwich City Council on May 16.

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John French, the centre's project director, said: 'We propose to make half the car park, approximately 34 spaces, available to users of Earlham Park during working hours. The other half will be for business tenants of the enterprise centre and this has been set at a minimum, in keeping with a low carbon building.

'Outside working hours and at peak leisure times, the whole car park, 68 spaces, will be available to users of the park.

'The division of spaces is based on surveys carried out last year on the use of the car park.'