New homelessness shelter and ‘significant’ changes to look of city centre - Norwich 2040 vision revealed

PUBLISHED: 15:05 22 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:15 22 November 2018

Norwich City Council has become increasingly introverted and inward looking, says a reader Photo: Jo Clarke

Norwich City Council has become increasingly introverted and inward looking, says a reader Photo: Jo Clarke

Jo Clarke

A city run on clean energy, state-of-the-art public transport and the voice of young people forms a key part of a vision for how Norwich should look in 2040.

Aerial view Norwich by Mike Page. Picture: Mike PageAerial view Norwich by Mike Page. Picture: Mike Page

On Thursday, the Norwich 2040 City Vision was launched by Norwich City Council at Carrow Road, bringing together people from business, charity, education and public bodies.

Co-chaired by city council leader Alan Waters and - with a particular focus on involving young people - Jasmine Mickleburgh, chairman of the Norwich Youth Advisory Board, it sets out five key themes for the future city built on existing strengths and weaknesses.

Its vision is for a creative, liveable, fair, connected and dynamic city, with a goal of making it “world-renowned for its creativity”, “shifting to clean energy by 2040”, improving health and wellbeing of citizens, making it a draw for entrepreneurs and introducing a “modern transport system”.

Immediate priorities have been identified as tackling rough sleeping, giving young people a voice, improving transport and promoting Norwich to the outside world.

Laura McGillivray, chief executive of Norwich City Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYLaura McGillivray, chief executive of Norwich City Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Waters said the report came at a turbulent time, and was set to a backdrop of climate change, which “directly affects us”, Brexit uncertainty and “an angrier society” living “under stress”.

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Laura McGillivray, chief executive of the city council, said: “This is just the beginning... It’s time to act and join together to be the city we want to be in 2040.”

Public transport links were a key topic, with Transport for Norwich organisers saying focuses were reducing city congestion, tackling air pollution, maintaining roads and investment in public transport.

The meeting heard that 9.5pc of people now travel to work by bike - above the national 3.1pc - and 23.8pc walk, again above the national 10.9pc.

Caroline Mayers, of the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) said it was key to rebrand our “brilliant” city and promote it outside of our own borders.

She said research involving 2,000 people nationally found 32pc would struggle to put Norwich on a map - though, after visiting, 74pc would consider returning.

The meeting also heard from Create Norwich, a project asking year 12 students at nine secondary schools around Norwich, funded by the Norwich Freemen’s Charity, to come up with big ideas for how they would like to shape their city.

New centre for rough sleepers in Norwich

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Jeff Taylor.Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Jeff Taylor.

A new 20-bed centre for rough sleepers could be created in Norwich, a charity chief has said.

Jan Sheldon, chief executive of St Martin’s Housing Trust, a homelessness cause, said at the meeting that its trustees had committed to developing a new 20-bed accommodation project for those in need, but that more details would be released in the new year.

She spoke about a “tale of two cities”, with the team behind a new Pathways scheme - a joint initiative between seven bodies aiming to reduce homelessness - having seen rising numbers of rough sleepers in Norwich.

In July the team counted 19 rough sleepers, rising to 42 in October, an increase she put down to various factors, including rising rents, flat-lining wages and benefit reforms - as well as individual circumstances.

Dr Jan Sheldon, chief executive of St Martin's Housing Trust. Picture: St Martin'sDr Jan Sheldon, chief executive of St Martin's Housing Trust. Picture: St Martin's

She warned that the average life expectancy for a man living on the streets was 47, and 43 for a woman.

A video made by the charity told the tale of Kevin, who hid the fact that he was homeless, shaving and showering in public centres, and spent four months living by Debenhams, until he was introduced to St Martin’s.

MORE: Rough sleeping project in Norwich helps 122 people in its first three months

Look of city could change ‘significantly’

The look of the city could change significantly if a roads funding bid goes ahead.

Norwich is one of 10 cities shortlisted for a share of the government’s £1.2bn Transforming Cities fund, with a bid lodged by Transport for Norwich for three super-fast bus routes. The next stage of the application will be submitted in the coming months.

Westlegate, Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLYWestlegate, Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Joanne Deverick, from Norwich City Council, said it was a chance to transform the city centre, using Westlegate, which has been pedestrianised, as an example.

“What this bid will give us is the opportunity to significantly change the look of the city,” she said. “Not necessarily taking cars out, but we can make the city look very different and much more attractive and appealing to people.”

She said they wanted to shape a network that “people can rely on”.

Speaking about evening transport in particular, she said: “We have got to really think more about it. In the future, sending your normal double decker bus to the suburbs might not be the most realistic thing.”

Castle Meadow leading to Red Lion Street, Norwich. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLYCastle Meadow leading to Red Lion Street, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

MORE: Delight as bid for super-fast bus routes in Norwich shortlisted for share of £840m government cash

What do young people want?

Mental health training in schools, an attitude of achievement and better transport links in rural areas are key demands for the city’s young people.

The meeting heard from members of the YAB, who spoke about key topics for them in a panel-style debate.

Issues included a lack of practical training in education on topics included CVs, job interviews and life at university, and remaining stereotypes around race and disability in Norwich.

One person said a lack of public transport links to rural villages made socialising, and even travelling to jobs and college, near-impossible, and that their village is set to lose all links in January.

And when asked for the one thing they would like to see in Norwich come 2040, the young people listed better funding for youth services and workers, teacher training for mental health support, helping young people realise their ambitions, improved rural transport links, a mentality of achievement and equality for everyone.

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