Published: Thursday, 5th November 2020
Collaboration has led to the creation of an ambitious and aspirational vision for King’s Lynn which could bring £25M in government funding, and transform the town.
Informed by feedback from the community, the Town Investment Plan has been developed by a partnership of business, civic and community organisations, and councillors and sets out a strategic programme of investment that would allow King’s Lynn to realise its full potential.
The plan, which has been developed against the background of a year of engagement and consultation, sets out a vision for King’s Lynn as a thriving place where people and businesses want to be, where aspiration is inspired and met, and where potential is fulfilled, now and for generations to come.
The plan will enhance the town centre experience for all, providing cultural and leisure opportunities, a new residential offer, and a revived riverfront. It will support business innovation and collaboration, and increase access to learning, skills, and employment. It will also provide for improved and sustainable connections, and will help with the town’s recovery and renewal from the impact of Covid-19, ensuring the long-term success of King’s Lynn.
The Town Investment Plan was submitted to government at the end of October in response to the Towns Fund announcement last year which allocated £25M for King’s Lynn. To access the funding, King’s Lynn needs to reach a Town Deal with the government on the basis of a Town Investment Plan which sets out the vision and priorities for King’s Lynn.
Councillor Brian Long, Leader of the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk: “This is a once in a generation opportunity for King’s Lynn. “The Town Investment Plan sets out our ambitions for King’s Lynn and what is so key is that it has been created collaboratively: it is a plan by local people for our area. Its delivery will bring huge benefits for King’s Lynn and west Norfolk as a whole. “I would like to thank everyone who has been involved over the last year, by giving feedback, by sharing ideas, or by being part of the Town Board. Together we have created a plan which sets out an ambitious future for King’s Lynn.”
Councillor Long’s comments were echoed by Councillor Graham Middleton, Cabinet Member for Business Development, who said: “The Town Investment Plan represents an exciting opportunity for the town and local people. “We have much to be proud of in King’s Lynn, but now more than ever, and as we all – and particularly businesses – feel the impact of Covid-19, we have scope to make improvements that will allow the town to thrive. “This plan will allow us to revitalise and reenergise the town centre, building on its many strengths and assets.”
Graham Purkins Chief Technology Officer of Merxin Ltd is Chair of the Town Board which was set up in 2019 and whose membership includes representatives from both public and private sector. The Town Board has led the engagement and consultation and development of the Town Investment Plan. Graham said: “I am thrilled to see the final Town Investment Plan submitted. This is the culmination of a collaborative approach which has involved local people and businesses who have given their feedback generously and openly. “And this is only the start of the process. We aim to continue this collaboration and partnership working over the months and years to come to ensure the effective evolution and delivery of the projects for which we are seeking funding. “King’s Lynn has a proud and illustrious history. We want to secure its bright and vibrant future too. And with this plan, we can do just that.”
James Wild, MP for North West Norfolk lent his support to the submission. He said: “I’m pleased that King’s Lynn is part of the Towns Fund and the government’s commitment to boost growth across the country. “This is an ambitious plan to support skills and young people, innovative businesses, an enhanced town centre with better cycling and walking routes, as well as maximising the waterfront. By playing to King’s Lynn strengths, this is a great opportunity to make our town an even better place to live, work, and visit.”
The vision and outcomes
In developing the vision for King’s Lynn, analysis took place of the town’s strengths and opportunities and challenges. This incorporated feedback from the public on their perceptions of, and aspirations for, the area.
The plan seeks to build on King’s Lynn’s attributes – such as the historic core, the strengths in healthcare and manufacturing, and good quality to life – and tackle challenges such as lack of connectivity.
The vision is for:
- a revived historic waterfront: a place to live and visit;
- a repurposed town centre;
- a skilled workforce for growing industry;
- a home for innovative and productive business;
- a sustainably connected town.
Through the vision and the delivery of the plan, the following outcomes will be achieved:
- new opportunities for skills and jobs for our young people and all those effected by Covid 19 and needing to reskill, linked to demand from local employers and opportunities in local sectors;
- growing innovative businesses – attracted by our connectivity and high quality of life and supported by the networks and collaborative support that businesses need;
- a repurposed town centre with new experiences and businesses – increasing footfall, enhancing cultural opportunities, with its different parts better connected;
- a high quality residential and leisure offer in the historic town core and riverfront – attracting new people to live and work in the town centre, whilst protecting our unique heritage;
- a sustainably connected town – through reduced congestion and better connectivity between the town, its catchment area and residential growth areas, creating safer walking and cycling routes and supporting remote working
Strategic programme of projects
In alignment with the themes and the requirements of the Town Fund, and to deliver the outcomes, the Town Investment Plan provides a framework for delivery that incorporates three themes. These are:
- innovative growing businesses and skilled workforce;
- sustainably connected town;
- historic riverfront and repurposed town centre.
Set against these themes are outline projects that will deliver the vision and outcomes of the plan. These interventions have been selected based on the significant impact that they will bring for the town. The detail of these projects would be developed should the plan be approved.
One of the projects included in the plan has already been announced – the School of Nursing which has secured a grant of £597,000. The project will see high quality nursing training facilities developed at the college campus and will deliver the Level 5 (foundation degree equivalent) Associate Nursing Apprenticeship to support the future workforce needs of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Both the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the College of West Anglia have supported the development of the Town Investment Plan. Caroline Shaw CBE, Chief Executive of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn said: “Our Trust is at the heart of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk and improving the facilities in the town centre will not only enable our Trust to attract more people to come and work at the Trust, it will also make King’s Lynn and West Norfolk and more desirable place to live and further support the area to reach its full potential. “The Town Investment Plan has our full support.”
Engagement and consultation
At the heart of the Town Investment Plan is engagement and since November 2019, more than 1,500 responses have been received to consultation that has included:
- young people’s survey: understanding perceptions of the town centre amongst 16-25 year olds, and their hopes and concerns;
- walking and cycling survey: gaining insight into people’s experiences of walking and cycling in the King’s Lynn area, and the improvements they would like to see. This will inform the Local Cycling and Walking Improvement Plan which is being developed by Norfolk County Council and the Borough Council as part of the Town Investment Plan;
- consumer and business confidence surveys: understanding how people and businesses in the town feel as the town centre reopened after lockdown;
- town centre ideas: inviting ideas for the town centre on themes such as town centre living;
- town centre use and satisfaction survey: seeking insight into how people use the town centre and how they feel about it.
Workshops have also been held over the last few months with young people, businesses, and stakeholders. This is in addition to previous consultation carried out in February 2019 which sought to understand local people’s views of the town centre and which generated 752 responses.
All of the engagement and consultation has been delivered under Vision King’s Lynn, the collective name for the plans and funding for King’s Lynn town.
Graham Purkins, Chair of the Town Board commented: “What has been of fundamental importance for us has been listening to the views of the community. We have heard what people have been saying – what matters to them, what they like about the town centre, what they don’t like – and we have developed a vision that aligns with this feedback. As a result, we have co-created our Town Investment Plan.”
Investment in King's Lynn
The Town Investment Plan could potentially bring in £25M to King’s Lynn from the Town’s Fund. The fund was set up to drive the economic regeneration of towns to deliver long-term economic and productivity growth.
The Town Investment Plan acts as a ‘wrapper’ for all funding in the town centre, including the Future High Streets Fund, the Heritage Action Zone, and the High Street Heritage Action Zone. This ensures a holistic and integrated approach to investment.
- the Future High Streets Fund was set up to renew and reshape town centres and high streets in a way that improves experience, drives growth, and ensures future sustainability. King’s Lynn’s submission was made in the summer with a bid for £21.6M. A decision on this funding is expected this autumn;
- the High Street Heritage Action Zone was announced in September and will restore and improve the appearance of the High Street and Norfolk Street;
- King’s Lynn has designated Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) status by Historic England. This aims to reinforce the economic, social, and environmental vitality of the town.
Should the Town Investment Plan by approved by government, a Town Deal for King’s Lynn is expected to be agreed with government by end of March 2021.
Councillor Brian Long added: “The Town Investment Plan represents a unique opportunity to transform King’s Lynn and make it thrive, now and into the future. “I am grateful to everyone who has been involved – the Town Board which has led the engagement and development of the plan and the many, many people who have added their voices and helped to shape our aspirational vision for King’s Lynn.”
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