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Tourism boost for Waveney Valley

PUBLISHED: 17:24 01 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:41 05 July 2010

A MULTI-million-pound project has been launched to brand and promote the Waveney Valley as a destination in its own right in an initiative designed to encourage tourism and boost the local economy.

A MULTI-million-pound project has been launched to brand and promote the Waveney Valley as a destination in its own right in an initiative designed to encourage tourism and boost the local economy.

South Norfolk Council has secured an EU-led Leader Award of more than £3m for the project that is expected to swell to in excess of £6m with matched funding through the private sector and charitable bodies.

And local communities and businesses on both sides of the Norfolk/Suffolk border are set to benefit in an area stretching from the source of the River Waveney near Diss to Oulton, near the coast.

Mike Bentley, the council's rural service manager, said the Waveney Valley has always had its own identity.

But promoting it as a tourist attraction has been fragmented because of its geographical situation as a border between the two counties, and the different districts through which it passes.

However, the project has united local authorities, businesses and organisations who are working in collaboration to seek funding to achieve a common goal.

“There will be the development of a Waveney Valley brand promoting features of the area so it becomes recognisable as a source of quality produce as well as a place that people would like to visit. We would be looking to enhance local food as well as enterprises and skills diversification. We are also looking at business creation and increased use of the wildlife habitat,” said Mr Bentley.

Key objectives include providing sustainable transport links from outside the area between towns, villages and local services, and enhancing cycling and walking routes so that the valley is accessible to all people who wish to use it.

A new website dedicated to the project area is planned, along with a film/DVD to be created by UEA, as well as festivals and events celebrating the valley's richness and diversity. “The Leader money has brought all of these disparate authorities together and put bridges across boundaries. We all see it as a great opportunity to enhance a portion of our district and county and promote what is a fantastic area,” added Mr Bentley.

The initiative has been welcomed by local councillor Tony Palmer, who said it will incorporate the aims of the Cittaslow movement promoting the quality of life in rural communities that has been successfully brought to Diss.

“As chairman of the Waveney Valley SNAP (safer neighbourhood area panel) I am delighted that SNC has gained an EU-led Leader Award for this project which will brand and promote the Waveney Valley as a destination in its own right. Diss is well placed as the gateway to the Waveney Valley and the project will be good for its prosperity and the area.”

Michelle Monck, South Norfolk Council's cabinet member for tourism, heritage, enterprise and culture, said one of the advantages of the project was that businesses either side of the border could work in partnership to get financial support. She urged them to contact the authority to find out more.

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