£6m plan to boost Waveney tourist appeal

A multi-million 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 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.

Norfolk County Council has secured an East of England Development Agency (EEDA) award of more than £3million for the project that is expected to swell to in excess of £6m with matched funding from 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 at Redgrave and Lopham Fen to Oulton, near the coast.

Much of the valley is in the South Norfolk Council area. And Mike Bentley, the authority'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.


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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 to 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.

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“We are also looking at business creation and increased use of the wildlife habitat,” Mr Bentley explained.

Key objectives include providing sustainable transport links from outside the area between towns, villages and local services, and enhancing existing 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 the UEA, as well as festivals and events celebrating the valley's richness and diversity.

“The EEDA 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 EEDA and the county council are backing 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,” he said.

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. And she urged them to contact the authority to find out more.

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