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Have your say about the future of rural Norfolk

12 February 2021

Norfolk County Council (NCC) and Collison and Associates Limited are working in partnership on a review of the Norfolk Rural Strategy. The partnership is inviting people who live and work in Norfolk to have their say and help shape the future of Norfolk.

Previous versions of the Norfolk Rural Strategy have been used to secure funding, such as the £9m of LEADER funding awarded to hundreds of community and small business projects across Norfolk since 2016. The previous strategy also initiated campaigns to improve rural digital connectivity and the work to develop the Norfolk Natural Capital Assets Evidence Compendium, which provides a detailed evidence base on our natural environment.

The aim of this survey is to ensure that rural Norfolk continues to thrive, setting out a blueprint to deliver a positive change for its rural communities. NCC believes that to create this positive change, partnership with the community is important and feedback from residents vital to its success.

Cllr Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Growing the Economy, said: “We are really interested in what the community – our residents, businesses, partnerships and academic institutions - think about how we could deliver the vibrant, healthy rural communities of the future. Could the role of your market town change, how do we use our world class environment to support our vital tourism sector and how can the growth of clean energy fuel our homes and lives?

“With an ageing population, rural Norfolk is also in the frontline of changes in healthcare needs and Cllr Plant says ‘we need to understand how new technology can help meet  future service delivery and business needs, through initiatives  such as the Go Digital programme we launched in December 2020.”

Norfolk is a predominantly rural county with a rich history and an unrivalled diversity of landscapes, communities, market towns, villages and businesses. With a proud history of innovation and ‘doing different’ stretching back hundreds of years - from the agricultural revolution, to the first environmental land management schemes trialled in the Broads in the 1980s, and which are now the central feature of the new UK agricultural policy.

There have been many changes to rural market towns. Digitalisation, online retailing, a rapid growth in remote working and an increasing desire to buy local products are combining to change the rural economy in new and fundamental ways. One positive of the current pandemic is that many rural people are commuting less and accessing small shops and facilities in their community more. If such changes are to become permanent, the steering group’s aim is to identify what should be done to do to support them.

Martin Collison of Collison and Associates Limited said:

“The steering group’s ambition is that ‘as the UK develops plans for the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which will average £1.5bn per year, we must ensure we have the project ideas which will deliver on rural priorities. But we also need to ensure that mainstream funding - such as large national budgets for education, health and transport - recognises and supports the needs of our rural communities.”

If you would like to have your say on the future of rural Norfolk you can complete the online survey. 

On the survey pages you can review the draft strategy and comment on the issues which are the most important to you, your community, business or organisation.  The steering group is also very keen to collect ideas for rural projects.

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