Advance Swaffham reports: group presentations

Advance Swaffham reports: Thematic Group Presentations

Advance Swaffham reports: Thematic Group Presentations

Economy Group

THE level of economic wellbeing of our town will be determined - to a certain degree by confidence.

We are in a recession - but we must have confidence that our town will be successful and rise to the challenge. We must be positive

about the future of Swaffham and the way it can develop.

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My wife and I visited Aylsham - often promoted as a perfect market town - some weeks ago and attempted to compare it to Swaffham.

Our conclusion - no comparison!

Parking/ shopping/ open areas/ townscape/ heritage - no comparison - we have so much more to offer.

Many issues determine economic wellbeing

The level of adult employment

The potential for employment for young people

The sustainability of all local businesses

The creation of new businesses

The potential financial spend created by both local people AND visitors within the town.

The overall economic prosperity of our town is critical to its future.

It requires the support and continued encouragement of all levels of local authority. The more support, commitment and encouragement we have in the early stages of the plan, the quicker we can become self sufficient.

We must grow the various business, retail and commercial sectors in the town. We must attract more visitors AND we must ensure the character of the town is preserved and enhanced.

The economy in Swaffham is more buoyant than many people think - despite the recession. Shops have closed - but many have quickly been re-let and reopened. We may not always get the shops we, as individuals, want but someone has the confidence to open them and will expect success. There are one or two special buildings and areas that need a special approach and to be handled with great care - such as - Plowright Place, the Corn Hall and the Shambles. The Corn Hall is special because it is a listed building, very obvious in the town centre and could be a major attraction if it development is handled carefully and sympathetically.

The town has long tradition as a market town and using the traditional Saturday market as the core and promoting the town with a market theme - indoor market, farmers' market, antiques 'market' or fair, plus the 'themed' markets (French and Italian).

The visitors to the town are so important. They must be encouraged to visit, welcomed with open arms, given more encouragement to stay longer and spend more. We do have lots to do and see - we must be confident in that and not talk down what Swaffham has to offer. We need to tell visitors more about the town and why they should stay longer.

Finally - it is the intention to identify some quick, economical and practical items - that are part of the plan - to achieve quickly. These could include visitor maps on information boards, improving the co-ordination of the various markets for the benefit of all, and a feasibility study for the Corn Hall project.

We are optimistic that Advance Swaffham provides an excellent basis for taking the town's economy forward.

I would like to thank the original team - many of whom have moved on - for all their help and support with the Health Check and economic report.

Although we have recruited some new members from the business community we are still a small team and if we are to achieve our objectives we need as much support as we can get. If anyone is interested please speak to Richard Bishop, David Wickerson, Dennis Tallon or myself - please help if you can.

Thank you.

Denis Bishop

September 2009

Environment Group

OUR group was tasked with looking at all aspects of 'the environment' relating to Swaffham.

We held our meetings at the Ecotech Centre beneath the wonderful wind turbine. This was a very suitable venue firstly because it highlighted the environmental awareness of the town and secondly because the caf� facilities provide lovely coffee and food!

Swaffham has a very attractive and interesting built environment and thanks to Ecotech and the turbines, has a reputation for environmental friendliness.

The Market Place with its historic buildings is considered one of the most attractive aspects of the town, however there is a lack of publicly accessible open space, especially towards the centre of the town and there is a general lack of greenery and biodiversity. Some aspects of transport are unsustainable with inadequate cycle routes being identified as a problem.

The positive environmental aspects of Swaffham need to be highlighted and further enhanced. The town centre has fairly recently been greatly improved and could be made even more attractive and user friendly for pedestrians by providing better signs showing directions and distances to various locations such as car parks, toilets, the information centre and the museum. A large map of the town with appropriate annotation could also be suitably positioned.

Another action in the town which we'd like to develop in the future is to further improve the Market Place and also new developments using the principles of 'Green Infrastructure' ie: reducing the levels of concrete and increasing plants, grass and trees.

The approach roads into the town give a first impression of Swaffham to visitors. A relatively straightforward improvement which would have an immediate positive impact, is to provide planters on the verges under the 'Swaffham' signs as you head into town. It is planned that these will be planted with flowers, shrubs and spring bulbs.

A local cycling and walking group has been set up to look at where improvements can be made. If safer routes can be developed this will encourage more people to cycle or walk into town rather than driving which will make it a more pleasant place and also reduce energy use.

Surveys that have been carried out show that Swaffham residents are very supportive of environmental issues - especially the younger generation - who are after all the ones who will see the results of climate change and other environmental effects.

Various initiatives have been looked into to develop this environmentally aware image, such as encouraging and supporting energy saving schemes, gardening, composting and reducing car use. It is planned that Swaffham may shortly become a 'plastic bag free town' and that a comprehensive guide to local recycling will be produced - this won't just cover newspapers, bottles and cans but all types of things that can be reused or recycled - batteries, mobile phones, drinks cartons, clothes, toys and furniture.

These types of initiative are positive for the people of Swaffham, the town's image and are good publicity, as well as helping to combat climate change.

So we're hoping that by the actions we have planned and the work already carried out we can help make the world a better place as well as improving the environment of Swaffham and making it a more attractive place to live, work and visit.

Pippa Wade

Transport Group

THE Transport Group has concluded that Swaffham's economy and environment will benefit from better transport facilities and improved traffic management. To reach this conclusion we obtained traffic data from Norfolk County Council, air quality data from Breckland District Council, and built on previous work by the Iceni Partnership on traffic flows, signage, lighting, parking, footpaths etc. Based on this evidence, and supported by the findings of town surveys, the Transport Group has made the following recommendations:

1. We observe that population and traffic growth in recent years has not been supported by road infrastructure improvements. As a result high volumes of traffic, in particular heavy goods traffic, are passing through the town centre, with adverse environmental, health and safety consequences. Attempts to mitigate the effect of heavy traffic through speed controls, mini roundabouts etc have given rise to high levels of air pollution, amongst the highest in Breckland. We will work with Norfolk and Breckland Councils and the Highways Authority to address these key long term issues.

2. In the shorter term, improvements can be made in traffic management and parking provision to make Swaffham an easier and safer place to access and navigate, and a better place for people to visit. Our recommendations include speed limit reminders, re-appraisal of traffic flows, improved access to car parks and better management of parking controls. All these recommendations are made with a view to supporting the town's economy by facilitating access and movement around the town.

3. The Group identified improvements that should be made to road signage in and around the town, all of which will enhance the

appearance and 'user friendliness' of the town, and benefit those visiting and doing business here. These are captured on a CD which forms part of the Group's report. Lighting and public footpaths should be enhanced for safety and environmental reasons. Discussions with local authority representatives are underway on all these issues, and we are encouraged by their initial response.

4. Swaffham sits at the heart of a network of thriving villages, but access to and from them is almost wholly by car because of the lack of convenient public transport. The Group recommends that a survey be conducted to establish the level of demand for public transport services and how that might be met, including at evenings and weekends.

5. Finally, the Group examined the need for improved cycling and pedestrian routes in and around the town, in particular safe and

unpolluted routes for children to walk or cycle to school. Environmental and health benefits can be achieved if this initiative succeeds. An early spin off of our report is the formation of just such a group devoted to raising the profile of walking and cycling in the town.

The Transport Group recommends its report to you, and welcomes feedback.

We intend to follow up our recommendations with all those who can make a difference to our town.