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My Norwich

Proposed sale of major industrial estate will ‘unlock its potential’

Published on Friday, 25th June 2021

A council-owned industrial estate is set to go on sale in a bid to boost the local economy.

The Norwich Airport Industrial Estate, which sits to the south of Norwich International Airport, is jointly owned by Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council.

The proposed sale is due to be presented at both council’s cabinet meetings in early July and would see the 48-hectare site put on the open market.

Reports commissioned by both councils have indicated there is a clear opportunity to grow business activity, jobs and income from the site. They also concluded that this would require significant capital investment and external commercial expertise.

Greg Peck, cabinet member for Commercial Services and Asset Management at Norfolk County Council, said:

“The Norwich Airport Industrial Estate is full of potential. The time is right for us to step aside and give someone else with the right expertise the chance to make the most of an important economic asset. By acting now, we can secure a significant cash boost for Norfolk taxpayers and see the estate thrive under new ownership – it’s a win-win.”

Norwich City Council leader, Councillor Alan Waters, said:

“The industrial estate has been a significant asset for the council for many years and we’re acutely aware of its potential to be a site of economic importance for our city.

“We’ve had to weigh up and carefully consider the best use of our resources and budget while ensuring continued improvement and development for the economic well-being of the estate.

“We’re very mindful that there are many successful businesses operating out of the site and have started to engage with them ahead of cabinet outlining the positives for them if the proposals go ahead.”

The jointly-owned site currently provides a net income of around £800k per year, with 60 per cent going to the county council and 40 per cent to the city council. While this income would be forgone in the event of a sale, without further investment the cost of maintaining the estate will begin to eat into the income it generates.

A recent valuation of the site has also indicated a sale would secure a significant cash boost to both councils while providing the buyer with an attractive long-term investment opportunity.

The industrial estate is made up of light industrial warehousing and office space. The land was previously occupied by the former RAF Horsham St Faiths military airfield with some of the airport hangers converted for modern business needs.

Proposals have been put in place to amend the lease for the new Norwich City Service Ltd depot on the land which will protect its future for Norwich City Council services.

The proposal is due to be considered at Norfolk County Council’s cabinet meeting on Monday 5 July and at Norwich City Council’s cabinet on 7 July.