Major property development announced at Norwich International Airport
Norwich International Airport has teamed up with Cambridge-based commercial property specialists Wrenbridge to form a joint venture company tasked with developing an 850,000 sq ft site for hanger and office space, or just over 18 acres. The park will be developed on 100 acres of land to the north east of the main runway with the first phase led by Norwich-based firm Air Livery, which currently has its headquarters on Liberator Road. The firm, will move into a new purpose-built state-of-the-art aircraft facility on a 160,000 sq ft site which will see the creation of 120 jobs. Proposals are now being drawn up ahead of a public consultation and planning application, but hopes are high that the site could be developed by mid 2014.
The plans centre around an initial investment of around £3 to £4m to create a link road into the site from the A140 Cromer roundabout near Horsford along the former taxiway to the north east corner of the airport and fit the necessary infrastructure such as electricity, though it will also link to the proposed Norwich northern distributor road.
Andrew Bell, chief executive of Norwich International Airport said after a turbulent couple of years which had seen passenger numbers drop, the plans were a sign that the future of the airport was again on the up. He said the scheme, which would focus primarily on businesses linked to the maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) of aircraft and the development of a centre of aviation excellence, had been two years in the making, while the councils signed up six months ago and a legal deal to create the venture company was signed last week.
The next stage will be to draw up detailed proposals ahead of a public consultation and planning application.
Mr Bell said, "This announcement marks another positive step forward for the airport and further demonstrates the key role it plays as a driver of direct and indirect employment and economic growth in the region. This is a hugely exciting time for the airport, underpinning its status as a major regional airport fuelling economic growth," he added. "It's a crucial project and it's going to happen. That's why it's exciting."
Julian Duffen, Managing Director of Air Livery, said: "Our base at Norwich International Airport has played a key role in growing our business in recent years. Having the ability to secure modern premises at the airport is vital to deliver the growth profile we envisage in the future, and today's announcement marks a significant strategic move forward for the business and a firm commitment to Norwich and our customers. Our core market spans a significant part of Europe and we had a number of options as to where these new facilities could be located. The East of England, and Norwich International Airport specifically, fit the bill perfectly."
Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said: "These ambitious plans show that we have confidence in our area and that we can attract high-end businesses and skills to Norwich. The airport is an asset to the city and we would all like to see it flourish and I think it will be well supported as a transportation and services hub."
Ann Steward, cabinet member for economic development at Norfolk County Council, said the news was a welcome boost for the local economy.
"A thriving Norwich International Airport is great news for both the Norwich, and wider Norfolk, economy," she said. "Air Livery's decision to locate this considerable expansion at Norwich International Airport, rather than at an alternative airport elsewhere in Europe, is testament to the region's ability to offer the right mix of skills, capacity and stability.
"The airport has fantastic potential to grow further in the future and the county council is determined to play a full part in unlocking further growth through badly needed infrastructure schemes such as the Northern Distributor Road."
Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, said: "We are very pleased to be able to help facilitate this project by agreeing to this land, owned by the county and city councils, to be used in this way. One of the city council's major priorities is to bring jobs into Norwich, to make it a prosperous city. If this project goes ahead this will provide a major boost to the jobs market, which is excellent news for the people of Norwich."
Ewen McLeod, Associate Director of Wrenbridge said the Air Livery building comprises a terrace of 5 hangars in addition to the company's head office.
"Work has already started on the preparation of a hybrid planning application with the help of Morgan Sindall Professional Services, who will be applying their extensive aviation expertise to this process," he said. "The hybrid application will be submitted towards the end of the year following a series of public consultations. This gives us a good platform from which to attract further occupiers to the site".
Norwich International Airport was privatised in 2004. Norwich City Council and Norfolk County Council sold a majority stake in the business to regional airport operator Omniport.
Godfrey Ainsworth, chairman of Norwich Airport and Omniport Holdings, said: "Since privatisation in 2004 we have seen more than £15m invested directly by the airport in infrastructure and upgrading of facilities. Further significant third party investment totalling more than £20m by our tenants including Klyne Aviation in a business aviation centre and Bristow in new hangars has been facilitated. This Air Livery development, together with the opening up of the site, will see a further £14m invested at the airport in this first phase alone. "
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