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Summer / Autumn 2019 Opportunity Issue Articles

Norwich Launch Vision for the Future

A success story in the making

Norwich has a long history of being a radical, innovative city. The list of ‘firsts’ stands proud in its past and future.

Recently identified as one of the five ‘fast growth cities’ in England, it is increasingly recognised for its economy, quality of life and vibrancy.

However, Norwich is affected by areas of financial, personal and health inequalities which the city has a duty to address and ultimately improve.

The need for change is exacerbated by increasing pressures both at national and international level. Local government funding continues to fall, meaning local councils are forced to find new ways of working to continue providing a good level of service for their communities.

We are also living amongst a wider backdrop of huge social and environmental challenges. The need to tackle climate change is an urgent and vital mission that needs a collective resignation to undertake. One in five of the UK population are living in poverty, a figure which has risen in the past five years. Combine this with the impact and continued uncertainty around Brexit and future planning has become even more complex.

Why is there a need for a Vision?

A feature of the next two decades will undoubtedly be the pressure on the city’s environment and infrastructure. This will necessitate substantial changes in the way people work, learn and live. The whole city needs to embrace these new challenges, and work to make sure Norwich is seen as a shining example across the globe.

Cllr Alan Waters, Leader of Norwich City Council, said: “The Norwich of 2040 will only reach its full potential if the Norwich of 2020 works together to achieve it. The people, businesses and institutions of this fine city must all buy in to the vision of the future.”

Stefan Gurney, Executive Director of the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) and VisitNorwich, added: “We are an enthusiastic partner in Norwich 2040 and have been working with the council and a wide range of other organisations across the city. It is vitally important that the business community has a strong voice in helping to shape the Norwich of the future. ”

Since 2018, a diverse range of city personnel and stakeholders have been part of a process to ascertain what sort of Norwich we want to see in 2040. Two conferences, focus groups, public and stakeholder interviews have all fed into ‘The Story of Norwich’ as it is now, and how it should be in the future.

These conversations have provided the themes of the 2040 Norwich City Vision; a concept that will continue to develop as engagement greatens and priorities shift over time. If the whole city supports the themes anything is achievable.

So, what are the ambitions?

To provide:

•  A creative city: Culture and creativity play important roles in the perception of Norwich, both within the city and from outside it. In 2040, Norwich will be a leader in innovation, culture, education and invention.

•  A liveable city: The city takes pride in being a place with a great local environment that people value. Committed to shifting to clean energy by 2040, it is the intention to become carbon-neutral by 2050. The support and promotion of sustainable living will continue, meeting the needs of the present while safeguarding the future.

•  A fair city: Norwich is already a place where many enjoy a great quality of life. By 2040, all its citizens will see improvements to their lives and prospects. Any barriers to achievement or life chances will be tackled, and a high standard of living will be enjoyed by all.

•  A connected city: Effective connection and communication among residents and the wider world is a fundamental cornerstone of any great city. Norwich will be a fully connected city by 2040; not just by utilising a modern transport system, but also by heightening its digital connectivity to make sure all residents can link with each other.

•  A dynamic city: Norwich is proud to be home to two successful universities and thriving life sciences, creative, tech, leisure and retail sectors. In 2040, Norwich will provide a base for entrepreneurs, social enterprises, and large companies to provide good jobs, prosperity and success.

These ambitions for Norwich are a credible destination, but now the focus must be on the journey. All will need to work together as a city, and everyone has a part to play, whether it is sharing ideas, enhancing best practice, or communicating with each other.

Research will also be commissioned to engage the community and inform its actions. And it mustn’t be forgotten to celebrate the various successes achieved along the way.

What are the priorities?

While planning ahead, it is vital to provide the best future for the city, 2040 is a long way ahead and our first objective must be to tackle the immediate priorities that have been identified.

These are:

•  Tackling rough sleeping: A consortium of eight local organisations has been commissioned by Norwich City Council to tackle rough sleeping and support people with complex needs. This new project, called Pathways, will utilise the combined strength of its members to offer a pioneering new model. One multi-agency team will be formed, to deliver an improved service to those who need it most.

•  Enabling a strong voice for young people: To ensure that young people are given the opportunity to help shape the Norwich of their future. This will be made possible by engaging with a number of partners in the education and young people’s sectors, including the youth advisory board, community organisations, schools, colleges, universities and businesses, to identify projects that will make a real and immediate impact.

•  Promoting Norwich: Elevating Norwich’s profile as a place to visit, work, learn, invest and live. Our authorities and institutions will have to produce and deliver a consistent message about the city, creating a common voice for its development.

•  Improving transport: Transport for Norwich has been granted a share of a £1.2bn fund to promote intra-city connectivity. A central focus of the successful bid was a new high-quality, integrated public transport network for the greater Norwich area. Key features highlighted include smart ticketing, cleaner vehicles, real-time information and faster journey times.

For further information on the Norwich 2040 City Vision or to sign up for email updates visit norwich.gov.uk/vision

Sue Wilcock