Ambitious plans for an industrial park on the edge of Norwich Airport could pump more than £50m a year into the local economy, it is claimed.
Airport bosses have lodged bids to create a 120,000sq metre industrial estate on the north side of the site, known as Imperial Park.
The development will be split 50/50 between being used for aviation purposes and general employment use – a condition previously agreed with Broadland and Norwich councils.
And bosses predict that the site has the potential to generate more than 3,000 jobs and pump £54.6m per year into the local economy.
Papers submitted with the application say that at its highest density, the project would create some 3,166 jobs, though this number could be smaller depending on a variety of factors.
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Richard Pace, managing director at Norwich Airport, said: “Imperial Park is an exciting opportunity to become a major employment centre for Norwich and the wider economy.
“The principle of developing Imperial Park for quality jobs has been established and it has been recognised that new commercial development is what will kick-start this key strategic employment site, as we start to recover from the impact of the pandemic on air travel and aviation-related industries.”
But in order to get the go-ahead, the scheme will need to be green-lit by both Norwich City Council and Broadland District Council, with the site sitting on the border of the two local authorities.
And while the proposals are not brand new, they are a significant expansion on a scheme that already benefitted from permission from both councils.
In 2020, planning permission for the park was granted, with the site set to provide 95,000sqm of floor space.
However, the airport now wishes to swell this to 120,000sqm, increasing it in size by more than a quarter.
The project will make use of more than 90 acres of land in the northern parts of the airport site and will be accessed from the Northern Distributor Road.
The scheme is the latest revival of plans for an aeropark at the same site, which was given permission to take off in 2013 – only to be abandoned two years later.
Norwich City Council and Broadland District Council will consider the bid in due course, with decisions expected to be made by the end of the year.
History of Imperial Park
Plans to unlock the potential of this part of the airport’s land have bubbled under the surface for the best part of a decade.
Originally, the vision was to build Norwich Aeropark, a collaboration between the airport at Cambridge-based property specialists Wrenbridge.
It would have seen 100sqm of floor space entirely for use by businesses in the aviation industry – and was granted planning permission in 2013.
However, the vision never got off the ground and was shelved in 2015 – with the ordeal costing the airport around £440,000.
In November 2018 a new vision for Imperial Park took off, promising a mixture of both aviation and general use employment space.
In 2020, a scaled-back version of the plan was approved, but this latest vision – if approved – will offer around 26pc more floor space.
Norwich Airport history
While Norwich Airport currently sits off the A140 and is bordered by Hellesdon and Horsham St Faith, it was not always here.
The city’s first airport opened in 1933, between the two world wars, and was sited on part of Mousehold Health.
However, the site was purchased by Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council in 1967 and moved to its current location.
It was first used for holiday charter flights in 1971, a year after receiving approval for the export and import of all types of freight.
In 1987 it became a limited company, which meant investments could be made in extending its terminal.
In 2004, Omniport PLC became the site’s majority shareholders, with Norwich City Council and Norfolk County Council retaining the remaining interest.
In 2014, the airport was sold to its current owners, Rigby Group PLC and it became part of Regional City Airports.
In 2019, Norfolk County Council agreed to sell its last shares in the site.