Published 29 September 2021

Norfolk needs to learn to blow its own trumpet to the rest of the country and beyond.  We all know what a great place our county is to do business, but sadly that message doesn’t always get across to potential investors elsewhere.

We were delighted to be asked to take part in a popular podcast series published by EGi Radius, the people behind Estates Gazette, the leading commercial property publication.  They asked managing partner Guy Gowing to talk about the economic and business situation here in Norfolk.

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When they suggested I sum up what I wanted the podcast to get across, the answer was easy: ‘Norfolk’s Time Has Come’

“This isn’t an empty sentiment, I truly believe that our county is finally getting itself onto the map,” says Guy.  “Improved transport links, the discovery of our county by people from elsewhere following the staycation boom, and a world of work which has changed out of all recognition as a result of the pandemic, have all combined to project Norfolk into the limelight.”

During the half-hour interview, Guy talked about the situation with regard to offices in the county.  “All sorts of factors are driving a rapid return to the office, from pressure from employers to a recognition that working in isolation reduces collaboration and creativity, and has contributed to poor mental health amongst many workforces.”

Permitted development rights have stripped out much of the lower quality office space, especially in Norwich, and there is high demand for the remaining Grade A office buildings, leading to good opportunities for investors.  This is reflected in strong demand for freehold offices – Arnolds Keys has done a number of deals totalling many tens of thousands of square feet already in 2021.

Despite what some national commentators are saying, Guy pointed out that retail is very much still thriving in Norfolk, and in Norwich especially.  Whilst some big national names have disappeared – as they have everywhere – the county’s strength is in niche retail such as that found in the Norwich Lanes, and in a recognition among independent operators in particular about the importance of experiential retail.  

The podcast also touch upon the employment environment here in the county.  Perhaps due to our slightly isolated nature, Norfolk has developed a strong online retail presence (for example the leading national photographic retailer Wex is based in the city), and offers a workforce with specialist skills in areas such as offshore engineering and food production.

All of this has been much boosted by dramatically improved communications, including roads such as the A11 and the NDR, a much-improved rail service to London and beyond, and thriving ports such as Great Yarmouth (not to mention our proximity to Britain’s biggest container port, Felixstowe).

“Norfolk’s time has definitely come,” said Guy.  “Now all we need to do is get the message out there to encourage investors to make the connection and invest ion the county’s future.”

You can listen to the podcast at https://estatesgazette.podbean.com/e/voice-of-the-region-norfolk-%e2%80%93-broad-expectations/

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