Norwich set for population explosion

Sarah HallNorwich is set for a population explosion, according to a government body which predicts the city will be the fourth fastest growing in the country within the next decade.Sarah Hall

Norwich is set for a population explosion, according to a government body which predicts the city will be the fourth fastest growing in the country within the next decade.

The Office for National Statistics believes 23,000 more people will be living in the Norwich City Council local authority area by 2018, compared to the population in 2008.

A new report revealed the city's population is expected to soar from 137,000 in mid-2008 to 160,000 in mid-2018 - up 16.8 per cent.

And it comes as council leaders and MPs look set to join forces to fight for a fair deal for Norfolk and Norwich in the wake of swinging cuts set to be unveiled in the budget on June 22 amid warnings from prime minister David Cameron that the country faced years of pain because the economy is in a far worse state than previously thought.

Six of the 10 fastest growing areas are in the east, with Colchester predicted to be the fastest growing area, with Ipswich and East Cambridgeshire also on the list.

Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said the prediction demonstrated why it was so important the new coalition government's tightening of the purse strings did not lead to the city suffering from a lack of investment.

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'The predictions underpin all the arguments we have been making on a whole raft of things,' he said. 'We have been working so hard to make sure all the elements are in place for successful growth, but ultimately we have to make sure that the people who are already here come first.'

As reported in the Evening News, plans to build the first new council homes in Norwich for two decades and a �100m project to build more than 400 homes in the city have been put on ice because of the government's ongoing spending review.

The East of England Development Agency, which acts as the strategic voice for the region and drives economic investment, is also facing an uncertain future.

Mr Morphew said: 'If we don't get investment and new homes are not built then that will drive up the prices of the existing homes. That means local people could find they cannot afford homes.

'The same is true of jobs. If people are going to move here then we need to have the investment to ensure jobs are here for them and for the local people who are already here.'

Derrick Murphy, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council said that the with all of the county's MPs sitting as members of the coalition government the county needed to join together at all levels to lobby government on the big ticket issues for Norfolk including transport links, housing, college funding and skills.

'The one thing we have all got in common is that we all agree on the need to improve infrastructure, if we haven't got that then Norwich cannot grow in a sustainable way,' Mr Murphy said. 'If Norwich isn't performing it will affect the rest of Norfolk and vice versa. There is a really strong symbiotic relationship between the two, that's why we have got to work together.'

Do you think Norwich can cope with a population hike? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email