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Date published: 20th February 2017

North Norfolk District Council is progressing investigation into the feasibility of a new North Norfolk centre where businesses will share space with education providers to help bridge the gap between workforce needs and academic study.

A business case is being developed, which will explore viability of site options, detailed design requirements and suitable operational models for a type of development that is entirely new to this area.

This builds on an earlier feasibility study carried out last year that found strong evidence to support development of an enterprise facility in North Norfolk. The decision to move to the next stage of the plans was approved by the Council’s cabinet, following consultations with more than 90 local businesses and educational establishments.

Cllr Nigel Dixon, North Norfolk District Council Cabinet Member for Business and Economic Development said: “It is great news that investigations into a centre to support local business and our local economy is making solid headway. Our discussions with local businesses and organisations have given us an indication of the demand for such a development and the needs this project aims to meet.

“For the economy these can feel like uncertain times but we believe we have identified a suitable means of helping to support the development of local businesses, whilst opening the eyes of young people in the area to the wealth of exciting career opportunities that exist locally. The future growth of North Norfolk’s economy and prosperity of our district is dependent upon talented young people and this investigation aims to focus on a suitable new approach.”

The initial study identified 45 potential sites across the district. Eight of these have now been shortlisted for further investigation. The proposed centre will focus on science, technology, and engineering-based industries (STEM) and hence the enhancement of career development opportunities in those fields also.

Cllr Dixon added: “We are keen to explore the integration of STEM to help equip young people with the skills needed in North Norfolk’s established industrial base of offshore energy, food processing and boatbuilding, but also to tap into the emerging potential of the area in digital and creative industries.”

North Norfolk District Council commissioned leading enterprise agency Nwes to develop the full business and investment case options for the proposed centre that will now move onto a detailed assessment of the location and site options. The second phase of the work will include outline design proposals, cost analysis, and finally looking at the delivery model and the potential funding options.

John Balch, Strategic Director of Nwes, said: "We are delighted to continue working with North Norfolk District Council in developing the plans for this new centre. We know that encouraging new businesses and developing STEM-based skills are essential components of the new Industrial Strategy proposed by Government, a vision shared by the Council and ourselves.

“This could be an exciting opportunity to stimulate business growth in the area and boost the North Norfolk economy. We are keen to explore the options and to recommend the right kind of facility that will not only provide first-class accommodation for start-ups and growing companies ,offering all the support they need to help them thrive and prosper, but also raise the career aspirations of local young people.”

Nwes’s team on the project includes: specialist consultancy group, Nautilus Associates.; leading architects Feilden+Mawson; International planning and infrastructure consultants, AECOM; and local land agents from Brown & Co.; together with expert input from the University of East Anglia and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Last updated: 16th August 2017