The former Colman’s and Britvic site in Norwich has been sold – with the new owners pledging to pump £40m to build thousands of new homes and create jobs.
London-based Fuel Properties has exchanged contracts for the Carrow Road site with Unilever and Britvic and aims to submit plans to redevelop the 31 acre site with Norwich City Council in the months ahead.
The company, which was set up in 2018 to acquire brownfield land, says redeveloping the site will create more than 2,000 homes and 1,500 jobs.
They said it would be residential-led, but with 250,000 square foot of commercial and employment space and new leisure facilities.
Darryl Flay, founder of Fuel Properties, said: “This site is one of the most interesting and exciting projects I have been involved in throughout my 35-year career in property.
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“The site has been a manufacturing site for 160 years and has contributed significantly to the history of Norwich since it was first constructed by the Colman family in 1850.
“I am determined that we celebrate this history and inject new life into the site, making this area a sought-after location for business, culture and homes and one which brings a whole host of new benefits to those living and visiting Norwich City.”
Unilever, which owned the renowned Colman’s Mustard brand, announced in March 2018 it was shutting the Carrow Works site, making 113 people redundant or reassigned.
That move came after Britvic, which makes products like Fruit Shoot and Robinsons, announced in October 2017, that it was closing its factory there in October 2017.
With such a huge brownfield site vacant – and development having stalled on a housing scheme on the nearby Deal Ground – that prompted council bosses to form a public-private East Norwich Partnership to get the area regenerated.
Some half a million pounds is being spent on masterplan and feasibility studies for the 123 acre area – branded as the East Norwich Vision.
The East Norwich Partnership includes government agency Homes England – which funds affordable housing, the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Norfolk County Council, the Broads Authority and South Norfolk Council.
Council bosses say it offers a “once in a generation” opportunity to create a new gateway to Norwich, with 4,000 new homes and 6,000 new jobs created.
However, the success of the ambitious hopes for the future development of the area, between Trowse, Whitlingham and Thorpe St Andrew, will hinge on improvements to Trowse swing railway bridge – which impedes access to the east of the site.
Some of the £25m recently awarded to the city through the government’s Towns Fund scheme will be used to help unlock development on the sites.
As well as the Carrow Works site, the wider vision encompasses the Deal Ground, former May Gurney site and the Utilities site.
Businessman Andre Serruys secured planning permission in 2013 to build at the Deal Ground and nearby former May Gurney site and this week revealed his hopes that plans for up to 1,600 homes and a new marina there will now come to fruition.
Fuel Properties say that discussions are “well under way” with Norwich City Council and other major stakeholders.
They say, ahead of a planning application being lodged, a consultant will be appointed to develop the ideas for the scheme, with the community involved.