I was impressed by the local planning teams and their continued work
RTPI President Stephen Wilkinson spent a two-day visit in Norfolk on 13 and 14 July.
- Day 1 was spent in Norwich considering social, economic and environmental projects.
- Day 2 took Stephen to Great Yarmouth to see regeneration initiatives and the Town's enterprise zones.
More details and photos can be found on page 16 of the Autumn edition of the East of England Express
Stephen was shown the Quadram Institute; the latest landmark building at the expanding Norwich Research Park. The construction project is well-advanced, and when it opens in mid-2018, the Quadram Institute will provide medical facilities for endoscopy, as well as undertaking leading research in food and health sciences. Stephen and representatives from the Greater Norwich Planning Authorities also met with Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, Chief Executive of Norwich Research Park. Sally explained the Park's Enterprise Zone status, its role in being a community for 3,000 researchers and clinicians, and its intentions to grow further.
The second part of the visit gave attention to managing and maintaining the heritage and environmental assets of Greater Norwich, in addition to promoting its economic ambitions. A riverboat tour gave the best vantage point to consider how a new strategy for the River Wensum will strengthen the natural environment, as well as appreciate the cultural and historic heritage of the City. Reflecting Stephen's job role as Head of Planning & Strategic Partnerships at the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, the river trip culminated with visiting Whitlingham Country Park, an example of a highly successful outdoor pursuits centre just a few miles from Norwich City Centre.
The first day was completed with a cheese and wine reception for young planners hosted by the Broads Authority and sponsored by Lanpro. Senior officers from the Greater Norwich Partnership gave their viewpoint on what makes town planning such an interesting profession for them and why planning will continue to be so important for Norfolk in the coming years.
On Day 2 Stephen journeyed to Great Yarmouth for a tour of the Town Centre and to find out more about the Borough Council's Town Centre Masterplan. Its ambitions being to help strengthen the whole town as a commercial and cultural hub. In the afternoon, Stephen was taken to the Outer Harbour where he could see the operation behind the £1.5bn Galloper Offshore Wind Farm that is being constructed by Innogy SE, and Veolia-Peterson's £1m facility for decommissioning obsolete oil and gas platforms. The last stop on the visit was to the Beacon Park Enterprise Zone, where the Borough Council is delivering a £7.7m headquarters for energy business Proserv, thereby keeping 190 jobs in the Borough and providing capacity for further expansion.
In summing up his visit Stephen said he was impressed by the local planning teams, as exhibited by the support to the Norwich Research Park; and, in Great Yarmouth the use of Local Development Orders to enable inward investment.
See more information and photos of the President's Visit here