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Date published: 5th November 2021

Norfolk District Council has been unsuccessful in bidding for £1.6m of Government support through the Community Renewal Fund for important and wide-reaching projects in Fakenham and North Walsham.

The £220million Community Renewal Fund was announced by the Government earlier in the year to help stimulate economic growth in areas across the UK as part of its response to the impact of the Covid pandemic. Local authorities around the country meeting certain criteria, which included North Norfolk, were invited to submit bids for funding to support specific regeneration/growth projects in their area.

This week it was confirmed that although bids to support 14 projects in Norfolk were successful in securing a total of £6.5m from the Fund, NNDC’s proposals for two of its key towns were rejected.

The Fakenham bid proposed commissioning feasibility studies and investment in walking and cycling infrastructure, leisure facilities (lido or swimming pool), river management and drainage; while the North Walsham bid proposed accessing funding for a number of technical feasibility studies to support the North Walsham West Urban Extension proposal – essentially “front-loading” this proposal to support earlier delivery of new Net Zero housing development supported by good community infrastructure – a key priority of Government.

The bids were supported by the mayors of both towns and by local Conservative MPs Duncan Baker and Jerome Mayhew - and the Council will seek to work with them to evaluate feedback as to why its bids were unsuccessful.

Expressing disappointment on behalf of NNDC, Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Growth Cllr Richard Kershaw commented: “We are concerned that many of the projects supported through the Community Renewal Fund in Norfolk will not deliver benefits or outcomes to North Norfolk in any visible or tangible sense – most appear to be skills or workforce development-based; or unconnected and possibly duplicative projects with similar aims but not joined up around the Net Zero agenda.

“We will now need to discuss with local partners in Fakenham and North Walsham our collective capacity to take forward any elements of the proposed programmes in each town without Government funding.  We will also be seeking conversations with the District’s two Members of Parliament expressing our disappointment that neither of our bids were successful and wishing to understand better if they have any insight as to how successful projects were chosen and why we fell short.

“It should be pointed out that this setback does not prevent us from applying for funding through the next stage of the Government’s Building Back Better grants.”

Last updated: 5th November 2021