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Future of Norwich survey: What do people love about living here - and what do they want to change?

Buses on Norwich's Castle Meadow. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Buses on Norwich's Castle Meadow. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

Improving transport and tackling crime are the biggest priorities for a future Norwich, survey results show - and there is an optimistic outlook for the high street.

The figures come from a survey of 263 people living in Norwich, who answered questions on education, crime, health, the high street and transport, as part of our special focus this week looking at the future of the city.

When asked how much they like living in Norwich on a scale of one to five, with five being the most, the majority of people, 39.9pc, answered five, while another 34.8pc said four. Just 5.1pc said one.

But the majority, 51.4pc, said they thought Norwich had changed for the worse in their time living here, compared to 34.4pc who said they felt it had changed for the better.

When asked why, the answers covered almost all aspects of setting up home in an area.

One person said: “For the young professional, it’s a brilliant place to purchase properties, eat and drink, work and start a family. All in a vibrant and safe city.”

One person they said while they didn’t think things were worse, they worried they may soon decline, citing increased drug activity and shop closures.

Many people prioritise tackling crime in a future Norwich. Picture: Ian Burt.Many people prioritise tackling crime in a future Norwich. Picture: Ian Burt.

Another person said: “Traffic system is appalling. Also, the high street is on the decline.”

One said: “Traffic has got very congested, lots of shops and restaurant shutting down on the high street, not feeling as safe walking in the city the way that I used to feel.”

Chapelfield and the Forum both received praised as adding to city life. One person gave a balanced view, saying: “Some things have improved but others haven’t.

“For example the café and restaurant industries provide excellent choice and quality however retail shopping has declined.

“Community events provided by the council and Norwich BID are fantastic and the theatres provide top quality entertainment however the music scene has decline with the loss of key venues.”

When asked about their top priorities for Norwich’s future, the majority of people listed transport and infrastructure in their top three, followed by a thriving high street and tackling crime.

Job opportunities, reducing homelessness and a strong healthcare system were the next three most chosen options.

Turning to transport, the majority of people said they would like to see more reliable and regular buses, 24.8pc, followed by improvements to existing roads and all-round better infrastructure for cycling.

Many people requested cheaper parking, and more environmentally friendly transport options.

And when focusing on health, and the growing use of technology, many people said they wouldn’t be happy to use digital health services.

Plenty, though, welcomed virtual GP appointments, with 40.2pc of people saying they would use them, and using smartphone apps to see test results, 24.5pc.

One person said: “A number of maxi-surgeries around the city staffed by specialised doctors able to carry-out minor operations and day procedures.”

One of the designated shared cycle and pedestrian paths in Bluebell Road in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLYOne of the designated shared cycle and pedestrian paths in Bluebell Road in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

There was a particularly positive outlook when it came to the high street, with 69.3pc saying they thought physical shops would still have a place on the high street in the future.

And when asked about food and drink, 38.9pc said they thought the future would include more restaurants and bars, while 28.8pc said they thought there would be a growing number of home delivery options.

Just 26.1pc said they thought there would be less restaurants and bars.

Many of those who took part, though, are making the most of changes to shopping - 65.6pc said they regularly use online shopping, while 60.4pc said they do use contactless payments.

Just 25.6pc said they use click and collect shopping options, while 43.6pc shop through smartphone apps.

In the workplace, respondents are expecting change, with 42.2pc saying they thought their job would change significantly in the future, compared to 34.8pc who said no.

But for many, the change won’t be because of technology - just 32.7pc said they thought any shift would be because of technology.

What would you like to change?

We asked respondents to tell us one thing they would change about Norwich. The responses were varied - here are a selection:

• Improved traffic management in and around the city.

• Norwich FC in the Premier League.

• I’d make the city centre completely (private) car free, providing the best cycle and walking routes, and the cleanest air possible.

• Increase tourism and therefore jobs and money. Norwich does not sell itself enough.

• I would like an arena-sized concert venue/conference centre.

• Not closing the Sure Start centres.

• Free city centre parking.

• Reconsider the Anglia Square development.

• More places to moor a boat in the city. It could be lovely to use the river to come to Norwich.

• Reduction of business rates to enable small companies and retailers to thrive.

• The Norwich Society and Evening News are holding a public debate about the future of the city at the Forum on Tuesday, February 19 at 6pm. Admission is free, but booking here is recommended.

• Our Future of Norwich takeover week is brought to you in association with Norwich City Council and Norwich Business Improvement District (BID).

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