Norfolk

Downham Market's former air base earmarked for 4,500 jobs

Bexwell Image copyright Google
Image caption The former RAF Bexwell site near Downham Market is earmarked as a new information technology campus

Plans to create 4,500 technology jobs in Norfolk have been unveiled to MPs and members of the House of Lords.

A new campus focusing on data management and knowledge engineering is being proposed for the former RAF Bexwell site near Downham Market.

The firm behind the project proposes to invest £300m in the new campus.

Some residents are concerned about the impact of the jobs growth on housing, schools and medical services as well as the threat to local greenbelt land.

John Beer, chief executive of Downham Market Development, said the campus idea was spawned by the presence of research hubs at Norwich and Cambridge.

Consultation under way

Their activities could create thousands of billions of items of data each day and new systems were needed for analysis, he said.

Skills to develop these systems would be needed in the future and three organisations had expressed an interest in providing investment finance, he added.

"An Institute of Data Science building for 300 undergraduate and postgraduate research students, a hall of residence, a start-up incubator centre, hotel, retail, leisure and tourist facilities are planned," he said.

Image copyright Aventa Capital
Image caption Drawing of the new information technology and engineering campus planned for Downham Market

The 70-acre (28 hectare) site at Downham Market was chosen because it had rail and road access to Cambridge and London.

Town clerk Jean Markwell was in favour of the proposal to create jobs but said there would be an impact on local infrastructure.

"The town needs more facilities for young people, including a cinema, and for the elderly," she said.

"Consultation is under way but has not yet reached a stage where most people knew of the plan details."

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