Developer welcomes support for £170 million Downham Market scheme

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Lynn News Web Site Fillers ENGANL00120130618155315

The man behind plans to create a £170 million science and technology hub in Downham says the scheme has received a good reaction from people in the town.

More than 4,000 permanent jobs and a further 1,500 construction jobs will be created when the former RAF Downham air base is transformed into the Centre of Advanced Knowledge Engineering over the next three years.

John Beer, managing director of Aventa Capital Partners, says the project has received a good response since the story broke in last week’s Lynn News.

Mr Beer said: “The reaction from people has been brilliant. I was at the Rotary dinner on Friday last week and people were saying it was the best thing that could happen.People have been very supportive.

“We are really pleased with people’s attitudes and the overall engagement within the town and business as it is an inclusive project and not an exclusive project.”

Work is due to start later this year in transforming the 70-acre site into a centre to analyse the masses of data produced in a range of industries.

The project includes the Institute for Data Science, which can accommodate 300 students, a 200-student hall of residence and a small number of shops and cafes on the campus.

The College of West Anglia will be developing the curriculum for 16 to 19-year-olds, undergraduate and post graduate and research students.

Commercial and research buildings along with a hotel, conference centre and business incubator/spin-out centre will also be on the site along with a memorial and museum to the base’s past as the home of an RAF Pathfinders unit.

Mr Beer says his architects will soon be submitting a planning application into Norfolk County Council to add a further roundabout on the A10 to access the site. Another roundabout could be added to the site from the Bexwell side.

There are also plans for a regular bus service from Downham town centre and the railway station.

West Norfolk Council’s current local development framework has a target of 2,700 homes for the town before 2026.

Mr Beer said: “Projects like this do not just pop up. We did a full infrastructure analysis via a consultative company.”

The news has also been welcomed by Downham mayor John Doyle.

He said: “My personal view is that new jobs in the area is fantastic.

“This will make the area a hub for science and technology and hopefully attract even more people to the town.”