Plans gain momentum

KEY plans to transform prime waterfront areas of Lowestoft look set to gather pace in 2009 with a series of studies being launched and planning applications submitted.

KEY plans to transform prime waterfront areas of Lowestoft look set to gather pace in 2009 with a series of studies being launched and planning applications submitted.

Urban Regeneration Company 1st East continues to develop the ambitious proposals that will revamp around 45 hectares of land in the town, and board members this week said that despite the worrying economic slowdown that was being witnessed nationwide the economic regeneration of Lowestoft is still 'on the right track.'

Reflecting on their 'annual progress' with their 2007/8 review that also looks ahead with 'key actions' for 2008/9, 1st East is aiming to build new homes and create jobs at Lake Lothing, the fish dock and Ness Point in Lowestoft.

The vision to make Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth 'great places to live, work, study and visit' remains at the heart of the company's plans.

Since 1st East was established in 2005, chief executive Philip Watkins and chairman of the board of directors Richard Wright said 'much progress' had been made.

'As we move from the planning phase towards the delivery of the proposed developments we are currently facing an economic slowdown and difficult market conditions,' Mr Wright said.

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'However, the fundamental needs of regeneration and the requirement for new investment in the two towns has not changed. 'The plans have a 15 year horizon and economic cycles are to be expected within this time frame.'

With plans for a 'high quality, mixed-use development' at Brooke Peninsula, centring around 600 waterfront homes and 7,500sq m of commercial space on the former Brooke Marine shipyard land, the developer's consultant (PRC Group) are aiming to submit an outline planning application this year.

After the Waveney Campus project for Kirkley Waterfront reached a major milestone last October with the submission of a detailed planning application, this is due to be considered at the Lowestoft Development Control meeting of Waveney District Council on January 21.

And if scheme to house 1,000 staff from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Waveney District and part of Suffolk County Council is given the go-ahead then building work is likely to start later this year.

Part of the plans for the 19 hectare site on the south side of Lake Lothing would include a new east-west road, which would have 'the potential for 340 new homes and 20,000 sq m of commercial space.'

Plans for the East of England Park, to encompass OrbisEnergy with a 'longer term ambition' of creating a People's Park, are likely to see 1st East working with the council in 2009 to 'improve Ness Point' and take advantage of the tourist potential of Britain's most easterly point.

A detailed planning application is due to be resubmitted for 93 new waterfront homes at Oswald's Boatyard - on derelict land at the western end of Lake Lothing - while 1st East also admitted that the much-vaunted Lothing Crossing in Lowestoft was 'crucial' to improving the economic prosperity of the town.

'Despite all the current economic and boundary uncertainties the need to regenerate brownfield waterfront sites remains,' Mr Watkins said. 'So far we have not seen a significant downturn in developer and investor interest and with so many other positive developments taking place there is much to suggest that the economic regeneration of Lowestoft is on the right track.

'Everyone, including 1st East wants to see cranes but a lot of the work at this stage is about shaping policy and putting pieces of the jigsaw in place,' he said.