10 year vision for Swaffham

AN ambitious 10-year strategy to secure a thriving future for a Norfolk market town has been unveiled.

AN ambitious 10-year strategy to secure a thriving future for a Norfolk market town has been unveiled.

Advance Swaffham: a Vision for the Next Decade is the fruit of two years of hard work and extensive research into the needs of Swaffham and its residents.

It has been overseen by the Town Partnership Committee, a group created by the town council and community organisation the Iceni Partnership, to ensure a more joined up way of shaping Swaffham's future development.

Setting out more than 100 goals divided into 16 categories, it is hoped the plan will help the town secure more funding because organisations will be able to show funding bodies exactly why they need money and how projects fit into the wider town plan.

Former Norfolk MP Baroness Gillian Shephard, who was at Friday's launch of Advance Swaffham, described it as 'the plan of the people of Swaffham for the people of Swaffham.'

She praised the hard work that has gone into creating the plan, and said the way forward now is to ensure some of the smaller projects are completed quickly while work is simultaneously being done on longer term projects.

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Town Partnership Committee chairman David Wickerson said: 'Advance Swaffham will be the catalyst to drive forward projects, both large and small which will ultimately be of benefit to the town and its people. Several such projects have already been identified, now more hard graft is needed to turn those concepts into reality, which would have been impossible without this volume of preparatory work.'

Advance Swaffham's project officer Dr Dave Bek described the plans as a 'superb blueprint for the future.

He said: 'It is about the community and civic organisations really pulling together to put us in the best possible place to improve Swaffham, to enhance and promote what we have got. We really want to put Swaffham on the map.'

Dennis Tallon, manager of the Iceni Partnership, added: 'It is a living document that sets out the plans for the next 10 years. It will be constantly reviewed and changed as necessary and will look at all aspects - the environment, the community, the economy and transport.'

Town mayor David Harman expressed his thanks to everyone who had been involved in Advance Swaffham so far.

He said: 'It is the people of Swaffham who gave us this information so they should be very proud of the result of Advance Swaffham. It makes for an exciting future.'

The Town Partnership Committee's report states initial priorities will be to bolster the local economy. It wants to support the different markets and promote Swaffham as a "market town of distinction." It also wants to focus on increasing the number of visitors to the town by having a tourism strategy devised, producing themed walking trails, putting up information and interpretation boards at key sites, and improving the way the town is advertised on the internet.

The committee report also suggests potential ideas for major funding. They are: to improve Swaffham's green infrastructure; to transform the vacant Corn Hall so that it could become a central focus in the town centre; and to help the owners of the town centre's listed buildings restore the buildings' facades.

Mark Stanton, head of economic development at Breckland Council, said the town's approach to Advance Swaffham was 'exemplary' and just what communities needed to be doing to invest in their future.

t For the full report on Advance Swaffham: A Vision for the Next Decade visit www.wattonandswaffhamtimes.co.uk

t The report will also be available to the public on www.swaffhamtowncouncil.gov.uk, at Swaffham's library and the town hall from next week.

Advance Swaffham's 16 objectives:

t Enhance the central townscape

t Improve the look and biodiversity of the town

t Improve services and facilities for everyone

t Improve communication between organisations and the whole community

t Promote environmental awareness and good practice

t Support the needs and aspirations of everyone and enhance community pride

t Promote and further develop sport, leisure and recreation opportunities

t Promote sustainable movement through the town, for example cycling and walking

t Promote Swaffham's identity as a market town

t Support and enhance retail and service provision

t Promote a positive image of Swaffham

t Develop business and employment opportunities

t Develop education and training opportunities and links

t Improve what Swaffham has to offer visitors and how the town is promoted

t Improve management of parking in and around Swaffham town centre

t Improve traffic flow