Growth Options document

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2.1 Greater Norwich has significant importance for the east of England and beyond and has three assets of international importance – its heritage, natural environment and a growing knowledge economy.

2.2 In 2015, the estimated total population of the three districts was 396,510, with 223,000 living in the Greater Norwich urban area.

2.3 Greater Norwich is key to the region's economy, and Norwich is a regional focus for employment, retailing, tourism, culture, education and leisure.

2.4 Most of the sectors identified as having high growth potential regionally[2] have a strong presence in the area, including: advanced manufacturing and engineering at Hethel; agri-tech and life sciences at the NRP; and ICT and Digital Culture in the city centre. Other strengths particular to Greater Norwich include health sciences, financial services, tourism, retail, media and arts.

2.5 There has been a 7.8%[3] rise in overall employment from 2011-15 with notable increases in: accommodation and food services; IT and communications; professional, scientific and technical activities; education; and health and social work. Agriculture, manufacturing and insurance have all seen a fall in employment levels.

2.6 Of all the sectors, retailing remains the largest provider of employment. Norwich is rated as the 13th best performing retail centre nationally[4] and a number of market towns surrounding Norwich also have a strong local retail offer.

2.7 Levels of employment in Greater Norwich compare favourably to national averages and the numbers claiming unemployment-related benefits have seen a significantly sharper fall in recent years than the UK average[5].

2.8 Rural enterprises are important to the local economy and home working is likely to increase in significance. South Norfolk has the largest proportion of micro-businesses in the county[6]. Greater Norwich's business survival rate is above the national average.[7]

2.9 There is variable access to high speed broadband and mobile phone connectivity, and it can be poor, particularly in rural areas. To help address this, Better Broadband for Norfolk is a partnership funded through Norfolk County Council installing high-speed fibre optic networks across the county.

2.10 In December 2013, the Greater Norwich City Deal was signed, which is building on the area's leading status in science, technology and manufacturing and focuses on enterprise, skills and infrastructure.

2.11 Norwich's vibrant, attractive and historic city centre is a catalyst for economic growth across Greater Norwich, encouraging investment into the area.

2.12 The A11 corridor is a major focus of growth, with the route providing key strategic access to London, Cambridge and much of the rest of the UK. The Cambridge-Norwich Tech Corridor initiative aims to boost economic development.

2.13 The A47 to the east of the area connects to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft; they are coastal resorts and industrial towns with significant regeneration needs. The development of Eastport at Great Yarmouth provides improved access to continental Europe and for offshore industries.

2.14 To the south, the A140, providing access to Ipswich, London and locally to Diss and Harleston, is almost entirely single carriageway. To ease congestion at Long Stratton, a bypass is planned to be delivered alongside 1,800 new homes.

2.15 The A47 to the west provides access to the Midlands, the North and growth areas at Dereham and King's Lynn. There is a Government commitment to making improvements to the A47, starting in 2020, including dualling, junction improvements at Thickthorn and safety measures towards Great Yarmouth.

2.16 The Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR), which aims to reduce congestion through the north of Norwich and improve access to the airport, coast and Broads, is under construction with completion scheduled for early 2018. Related improvements to public transport in Norwich are an integral part of the scheme.

2.17 The main rail service provides access to Wymondham, Diss, Ipswich, Cambridge and London. Improvements are planned, or already being delivered, on these lines. The Bittern and Wherry Lines provide local rail links and options for commuting from settlements such as Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Brundall, Acle, North Walsham, Cromer and Sheringham.

2.18 Norwich Airport is a catalyst for economic growth and there has been an increase in passenger numbers in recent years. As well as the key scheduled service to Schiphol (Amsterdam) which provides a hub for links to international destinations, there is significant business from offshore industries and other destinations. Other principal international connections are via Stansted Airport and ports at Felixstowe and Harwich.

2.19 There is a relatively good network of cycle routes linking settlements within Greater Norwich, including the Marriott's Way, which links the city to Reepham and Aylsham. Significant grant funding has been secured to improve the cycle network in and around the city, linking the NRP and the city centre to the North-East Growth Triangle in Broadland, and to invest in other routes including between Wymondham, Norwich and Sprowston.Attracting additional funding for further initiatives is an ongoing priority in the future. Norwich is in the top five districts in the country for cycle use.

2.20 Development of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network is underway which, when complete, will provide infrastructure improvements and more frequent and faster services. The network will be developed further to promote public transport use in growth areas such as Wymondham, the airport and Broadland Business Park. The six Park and Rides sites around Norwich form one of the most comprehensive networks in the country and are well-connected to other bus routes. The Connecting Norfolk initiative promotes increasing use of demand responsive transport services and car sharing in rural areas.

2.21 There is an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) which covers the whole of the city centre. Improvements in air quality are being achieved by road infrastructure changes and other initiatives. However, this remains an important issue with more work to be done.

2.22 Although per capita carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have declined in line with national trends, they are above the national average in rural parts of the area, largely due to a greater reliance on car journeys.

2.23 Climate change is expected to result in generally higher temperatures, wetter winters, drier summers and more extreme weather events. River flooding in parts of Norwich and surface water flooding in a number of locations are significant issues.

2.24 There has been an increase in renewable energy generation in recent years, chiefly from solar (both small and large-scale), wind and some biomass developments.

2.25 The city is surrounded by countryside of high environmental quality, with historic market towns and villages spread through an attractive landscape. Parishes close to the city have a strong relationship with the Norwich urban area, while large parts of the area look to the network of main towns and smaller Key Service Centres to meet every-day needs and provide employment.

2.26 River valleys and green areas extend into or adjoin many built-up areas, with the Broads stretching from the eastern edge of Greater Norwich into the heart of the city.

2.27 The area's landscape is diverse, including heathland, ancient woodland, grassland, wetland, marshland and reedbeds, forming a variety of habitats. Large tracts of rural Greater Norwich have high quality agricultural land.

2.28 Varied landscape character areas converge on Norwich: the fens and marshes of the Broads - a highly sensitive wetland environment of international significance; rolling landscapes of varied geology including woodland, heath and former parkland estates to the west and north; an extensive open clay plateau incised by rivers in the south; and a more intimate landscape of small fields and hedgerows in the east.

2.29 Work is ongoing to improve and expand the Green Infrastructure network throughout Greater Norwich and beyond.

2.30 The area has a rich concentration of historic buildings, churches, halls, historic parks and gardens, including many historic assets in Norwich and the surrounding market towns and landmark buildings such as Blickling Hall. Ancient monuments and significant archaeological potential add a further layer to this historic character.

2.31 There are internationally important wildlife sites across the area, particularly the River Wensum and in the Broads. Most of these are marshland, rivers or broads, so any potential impact on water quality is a key issue. There are challenges in dealing with pollution from fertilisers and pesticides[8], with water quality a key issue for the environmentally sensitive Broads. There are also negative impacts on some wildlife sites resulting from the pressure from high visitor numbers.

2.32 Relatively low rainfall totals mean that the whole Greater Norwich area is defined as suffering from serious water stress[9]. Current local planning policy places a particular focus on promoting water efficiency.

2.33 The population of the area has higher than national average proportions of older people in Broadland and South Norfolk. Since they are popular retirement areas they are likely to see further growth in the older population[10], adding to already significant pressure on residential and home care services.

2.34 There are higher than average proportions of young adults in Norwich. While the overall proportion of minority ethnic residents is relatively low there has been a significant increase since 2001, particularly in Norwich.

2.35 There are some wards with high levels of deprivation in Norwich. Although the surburban and rural parts of Greater Norwich are relatively affluent, there are pockets of deprivation elsewhere.

2.36 While the health of people in Broadland and South Norfolk is generally better than the national average, in Norwich it is markedly worse. There is also marked variation within the city with life expectancy being 10.9 years lower for men in the most deprived areas than in the least deprived[11].

2.37 Although levels of crime are some of the lowest in the country in much of Greater Norwich, there are higher crime levels in inner urban wards, particularly in areas with a concentration of late night drinking establishments.

2.38 The area benefits from a strong and growing tertiary education sector provided by the University of East Anglia, the Norwich University College of the Arts, City College Norwich and Easton College. A recent increase in the birth rate has increased demand for education and other children's services in the area[12].

2.39 In more deprived parts of the area, educational attainment is low. Norwich has above the national average of 16-17 year olds not in education, employment or training (NEETs). Norwich also ranks particularly poorly for social mobility[13]. The picture for education, skills and training in Broadland and South Norfolk is significantly better.

2.40 Changing waste collection practices, including food waste collections in some parts, have helped the percentage of household waste recycled or composted to increase above the national average[14].

2.41 Broadland and South Norfolk are dominated by owner-occupied housing , whist Norwich has a much higher percentage of Local Authority social rented and private rented properties. The area's tenure mix has changed since 2001, with falls in home ownership and social renting and corresponding rises in the percentage of private rented properties across all three districts, mirroring the national picture.

2.42 There is a shortage of housing across all tenures in Greater Norwich. Overall delivery of housing from 2008-14 was at approximately 70% of the target, compared to a national delivery rate of 60%[15]. Completions have, however, increased every year since 2010.

[2] New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership's Strategic Economic Plan identifies five high impact sectors which have high growth potential: Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering; Agri-tech; Energy; ICT/Digital Culture; and Life Sciences.

[3] Calculated from figures supplied by NomisWeb, ONS Crown Copyright reserved. Number of part-time employees adjusted to reflect full-time equivalence (For 2011 part time hours at 42.2% of full time, and 2015 part time hours at 43.3% of full time to reflect national trends)

[4] Source: CACI

[5] Calculated from Claimant Count figures supplied by NomisWeb, ONS Crown Copyright Reserved [from Nomis on 3 August 2017]. Figures show a 59.5% fall in those claiming unemployment-related benefits, Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA) and Universal Credit (UC). This compares to a fall of 44% for the UK overall.

[6] ONS Inter Departmental Business Register data, 2016 (from Nomis)

[7] ONS Business Demography, 2015 – Business births, deaths and survival rates. Businesses in Norfolk have a better rate of survival over five years (44.7%) than the regional (43.1%) and national (41.4%) averages.

[10] Source: ONS 2014-based sub-national population projections.

[11] Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD)

[12] Source: ONS 2014-based sub-national population projections

[13] Norwich ranked 323rd out of 324 lower-tier authorities for social mobility: Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, Jan 2016

[14] In 2014/15 Greater Norwich had a recycling & composting total of 48% which exceeded Norfolk's average rate of 43%, and the national rate of 43.7%. Source: Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Tables ENV18 - Local Authority Collected Waste: Annual Results Tables –Table 3a: Regional Household Recycling Rates 2000/01 to 2014/15

[15] From AMR, 2015-16: "Affordable housing completions were just 40% of the current target of 561 completions per year, partly reflecting the fact that overall completions are below target."

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