Great Yarmouth stakeholders attend Leader's Reception to review borough's 2022 achievements
Local stakeholders in Great Yarmouth attended a special celebration of the key economic achievements in the borough during 2022, an event which was hosted by the council leader at the Town Hall today (Tuesday, January 31).
The annual Leader's Reception, staged by Great Yarmouth Borough Council, saw guests from local businesses and other partners review the last 12 months, and look forward to further exciting growth, investment and developments in 2023.
Cllr Smith said: "It's hard to believe it has been three years since I was last able to welcome you to a similar event here: Unfortunately, events conspired against us!
"But, despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the pandemic and the current worldwide economic disruption, I have been delighted with our resilient, creative and innovative response here in Great Yarmouth and how we are bouncing back and looking forward to a bright future working with you and all of our other partners.
"With that in mind, it is an honour and privilege to host this event for the business community, offering a chance to network with other ambassadors for the borough, to celebrate the economic achievements of the last 12 months and look forward to further exciting developments in 2023 and beyond.
"Through investing proactively in the economy, developing responsive projects and working at the level of place with partners including the local enterprise partnership and port company, GYBC is creating and capturing exciting opportunities for inclusive growth."
Cllr Smith highlighted the council's work during the pandemic, saying: "At the heart of all we do is our people, and reflecting on how our teams responded to the Covid crisis highlights just how resilient and effective our council is.
"For instance, our Covid marshals - set up to help residents access services and support - became our permanent band of almost 200 superb and highly visible community marshals, carrying on the initiatives and networks forged during the pandemic.
"It is that strength of purpose and creativity that means we have delivered and will continue to deliver regeneration and aspiration for our residents on an unprecedented scale."
In his speech, Cllr Smith remarked on Great Yarmouth's recent regeneration projects. Last August saw the hotly anticipated new £26m magnificent Marina Centre open, thanks to funding from the council, with additional support from the Government's Getting Building Fund, via New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and Sport England.
Part of the town's seafront regeneration programme, the exciting new water and leisure complex will provide a major year-round boost to the visitor economy and support community health and well-being across the borough for decades to come.
Also on the seafront, the people's palace that is the Winter Gardens which will finally be brought back to life. The transformational project to restore the country's last surviving Victorian glass house will breathe new life into the area was awarded a £9m National Lottery Heritage Fund grant.
The project is due to be completed in 2026 and will see the iron and glass structure restored to its former glory complete with beautiful gardens, galleries and café areas it will offer both entertainment and education and provide a fantastic focal point on the Golden Mile.
The National Lottery Heritage Horizon grant will have a transformational impact, reimagining the Golden Mile reaping benefits for the local community and boosting the tourist economy along the Norfolk coast.
Partnership working with local community and arts groups and consultation showed a very high level of support for the potential of the restoration to enhance Great Yarmouth as a place and support year-round economic vitality and community wellbeing. An incredible 26,000 responses were received. The borough's visitor economy, now worth about £600m annually, continues to grow.
Last year the council secured a Town Deal of £20.1m Government investment to deliver an exciting £60m vision supporting economic regeneration, recovery, jobs and growth across the borough's main urban areas.
The major capital funding, secured in March, followed the submission of an ambitious Town Investment Plan for Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Bradwell, the ambition is to reinvent public places, to tap into and grow a thriving arts and cultural scene, to support new homes, nurture new jobs, businesses and new opportunities to learn and grow, to make our people, businesses and visitors proud.
This work was given a huge added boost this month with the announcement that the council had been successful in our LUF bid for £20m to regenerate the North Quay area of the town.
Supplemented by more than £2m from the council's own budget, the work will extend, amplify and build on major projects already planned or underway in the town. Providing a retail, leisure and homes and enhancements around the railway station as a key gateway. The work will link into housing developments at The Conge, and work in the town centre. The Government has said it is keen to get delivery and spend underway quickly.
The leader said: "Our exciting vision to revitalise the town centre is focused around re-introducing more residential uses, making better use of our fabulously rich cultural heritage and historic buildings, highlighted by creating a stunning new £15m library and university centre in the former Palmers department store in the Market Place.
"With a £3.5m of funding support from the University of Suffolk and East Coast College and support from Norfolk County Council, the project is being backed by nearly £7.5m from central government via Great Yarmouth's Town Deal programme and £2.4m from the Future High Streets Fund and is due to open next year.
"The learning hub will see the college teaching degree level courses at the new centre, accredited by the university, in addition to the new library it will also host the county's award-winning adult learning service, registrars and other information and community services."
Sitting at the heart of the town centre, the learning hub will complement the £4.7m investment in the new more spacious and greener covered market - the first phase of which opened this year - and an exciting project to revamp and revitalise public space around the market.
This will see high-quality new paving, new benches, trees and planters as well as flexible event space. Financed under the Future High Street Fund, which the work will renew and reshape our town centre in a way that drives growth, improves experience and ensures future sustainability.
It is also extremely pleasing to see our commitment to residents with rapid progress on the construction of 18 one-bedroom homes at the beach coach station site which will be available for council tenants.
Once complete, the properties will be known as Jubilee Court and the £3m development is the biggest single expansion in council homes in the borough for 17 years and is being supported with funding from the Government's One Public Estate Brownfield Land Release Fund and Homes England. Construction work began last year and is expected to be completed this summer.
And, with an emphasis on sustainability, the FACET project is helping the borough's tourism businesses reduce waste and encourage recycling. It is also helping us tackle food waste, giving food to some of the most vulnerable in our society.
This strong sense of identity and shared vision, combined with mature evidence-based strategies and plans puts us in a unique position to deliver a place-shaping agenda, steeped in our culture and heritage while being innovative and community led.
Cllr Smith went on to say: "Meanwhile, the offshore energy sector provides Great Yarmouth with arguably the single most important economic opportunity for a generation. The recent emergence of offshore renewables has presented Great Yarmouth's port, its supply chain, and its skills base with the chance of enjoying hugely significant growth and investment. We now host a globally competitive renewables supply chain, servicing projects worth more than £5.5bn, with further investment totalling £39bn projected over the next 20 years as the UK offshore wind market is poised to increase significantly.
"With partners at NCC and the LEP we seek to create an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Campus, capitalising on space at the southern tip of the South Denes peninsula. It is the closest port to the Southern North Sea wind farm arrays with access to a deep-water outer harbour, as well as the river port.
"There is both opportunity and capacity to respond to growing demand for cleaner energy, deliver high-value growth and employment.
"The Great Yarmouth O&M Campus phase 1 project will upgrade or enhance facilities through three separate work packages. The full build out of the project will create a total of 288,700 sqft of lettable space. This could support 650 permanent professional office jobs and associated manual labour roles as demanded for the storage and lay up facilities. The campus will have wider benefits to the local supply chain and offer higher paid jobs for the local population, which is key to the local skills agenda.
"The partnership has worked together to leverage £10.4m in grant funding towards the total project costs of £21.4m. We are also working on an energy-related Business Incubator - currently being developed through a Town Deal - to attract existing investors in the area as well as local and regional start-ups and spinouts as part of a bold vision that creates and supports a clean energy eco-system.
"Work on the £21m campus is already underway. It will provide superb facilities for service operation vessels and crew transfer vehicles is due to be completed next year.
"Infrastructure to support this work will be vastly improved with the opening of the Third River Crossing this year. The Government committed £98m towards the project, with a further £20m coming from local sources. We are confident the new crossing will provide a real benefit to our tourism and manufacturing businesses, as well as the offshore energy and maritime sectors.
"All this is helping us achieve tangible results, reversing decades of deprivation, low education and low health outcomes. And we have improved our relative deprivation and lifted the borough out of the bottom 20 most deprived authorities. With more than £240m of public sector investment we are attracting globally renowned companies to the town."
Supporting the visitor economy, Great Yarmouth's immensely rich cultural heritage, including historic architecture and attractions, diverse festivals and a long culture of artistic performance centred around the Hippodrome Circus and Out There Arts. The council are working hard with partners to harness and promote this as a catalyst for investment and regeneration, while aligning our tourism, heritage and cultural offers.
Adding in their exciting programme of events for visitors and residents and delivered in partnership with organisations like Out There Arts, their collaborative partnership approach really has put Great Yarmouth on the map.
Meanwhile, the council's work with the Integrated Care System and the JPH is seeing it helping to lead innovation by driving change and improvement in public services, providing better outcomes for their residents. And by enabling their communities the ICS is ensuring the voice of the residents is both heard and central to the council's approach.