High-level nod for waterfront regeneration

AMBITIOUS proposals to transform swathes of Lowestoft's run-down waterfront and former industrial sites and create up to 1,000 new jobs have been given an official seal of approval.

Plans for 1,500 new homes, a new primary school and new retail and food outlets all form part of the Area Action Plan (AAP), which seeks to regenerate the heart of the town over the next 15 years.

The document, covering the harbour, Lake Lothing and Kirkley waterfront areas, was drawn up after discussions with stakeholder groups in March 2006, with a final public consultation held last year.

This week, Waveney District Council has received acknowledgement from a government-appointed independent examiner that its plans had been declared 'sound' and met with its approval.

Waveney District Council leader Colin Law said: 'Following several months of scrutiny, including a public hearing, we are very happy that it has been found to be sound. This is a real boost for the future of Lowestoft and a vindication of the hard work that our teams have put in over many years.'

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The AAP covers an area of more than 600 acres within central Lowestoft that includes many brownfield sites and patches of disused or vacant land. It sets out policies for the future development of employment, the local economy, housing, retail, environment, heritage and transport with nine 'strategic site proposals' focused on PowerPark; Peto Square; Kirkley waterfront and the 'Sustainable Urban Neighbourhood' (off Waveney Drive and Riverside Road); East of England Park (adjoining Ness Point and North Denes); Kirkley Rise; the western end of Lake Lothing; Oswald's Boatyard; The Scores and the Peto Way/Denmark Road corridor.

Its aims are to provide:

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A flourishing economy, by encouraging growth in the energy sector, employment development and jobs

A vibrant heart to the town for local people and visitors, including an enhanced role for Lowestoft as a retail centre

A high-quality, well-designed 'built environment' that is safe and healthy and embraces the town's water frontage

A housing mix to meet a broad range of needs – including about 1,500 new homes.

A growth in sustainable travel, with an emphasis on walking, cycling and the use of public transport

Better links between north and south Lowestoft and integration with surrounding areas, the coast and Broads.

Mr Law said: 'Although the Urban Regeneration Company 1st East closed in March this year, the council, along with its partners, is taking the plans forward and will ensure that they are delivered. The Area Action Plan is a 15-year plan and is deliberately strategic and flexible in nature to ensure that it is deliverable.

'This endorsement of the plan will now give far greater certainty to landowners and developers and will be part of the considerable current momentum to bring about positive change in the town, including recent announcements such as the Enterprise Zone status and those related to the offshore wind and energy sector.'

The council will now consider the examiner's report and before adopting the AAP on November 23.

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