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Joining forces for river improvements

Published on Friday, 13th February 2015

‚ÄčA new partnership has been set up to make the most of a natural asset at the heart of the city – the River Wensum.

Norwich City Council is leading the development of a joint strategy for the river, working in partnership with the Broads Authority, Norfolk County Council and the River Wensum Parkway Partnership.

The strategy will aim to manage the River Wensum and surrounding area for the benefit of the city and its residents, while also increasing access to, and use of, the river itself.

Opportunities that will be explored through the partnership include the river’s potential for contribution to the green infrastructure network and biodiversity; its links with the footpath network; its heritage, and its potential to boost the local economy through attracting tourists and visitors.

A number of organisations (including the city council, the Broads Authority, the county council and the Environment Agency) have statutory responsibilities for different aspects of the river so the partnership also represents an opportunity to improve joint working on a range of general river issues, such as enforcement, mooring, and navigation.

Councillor Mike Stonard, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member for environment, development and transport said: “The aim of this partnership is to identify opportunities to enhance the river and surrounding area for the long-term benefit of residents and visitors, as well as the local economy and environment.

“By sharing expertise between partners and consulting the public and other stakeholders we will be well placed to develop a strategy that will make the most of this natural asset over the coming years.”

Alec Hartley, chairman of the Wensum River Parkway Partnership, said: "Now we can start to make Norwich a River city again. The city council is to be wholeheartedly congratulated both for setting up the strategy project and for having the vision to make it a joint enterprise with Norfolk County Council, the Broads Authority and the Parkway Partnership.

“Concentrating on improving access to and from the Wensum recognises the simple truth that if you can't get onto the river you can't bring it back to life.

“I believe that developing this new and exciting strategy, while at the same time improving bankside access points, will help to make the Wensum the driver for development, leisure, tourism and the city centre economy it always could have been."

Adrian Clarke, senior waterways and recreation officer at the Broads Authority, said: “The Wensum is an iconic feature of the Broads, which itself is unique in being the only English National Park to embrace a city.

“This partnership will unlock the full potential of the river valley for everyone and help raise the profile of Norwich as the city of the Broads National Park.”

Toby Coke, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s environment, development and transport committee, said: “The Wensum was one of the main reasons for Norwich becoming such an important settlement, but as waterborne commercial traffic has declined, the focus of city life has shifted away from the river. This new partnership recognises that it is still a glorious asset to the city, and with potential to provide even more enjoyment to local residents and visitors.”

Dr David White, senior green infrastructure officer for Norfolk County Council, said: “The River Wensum is a fantastic natural asset.  By promoting and enhancing the green infrastructure, the new strategy for the river should ensure the river and its wildlife can be enjoyed by everyone, bringing health and well-being benefits for residents and visitors alike.”