Plans have been unveiled to transform Denver Sluice into a thriving tourist attraction.
The Environment Agency and the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership presented plans to the public on 19th March for this vital and historic flood management site.
Ian Bliss, Waterways Partnerships Manager for the Environment Agency, commented on the “huge unrealised potential” of the site which has protected West Norfolk from flooding for five centuries, resulting in the OWLP’s aim to turn the sluice into a tourist attraction, with improved connections to Downham Market and the surrounding areas.
A few of the many ideas proposed included a renovated clubhouse, with visitor centre and café, bird watching facilities, improved connections for boating, and more extensive footpaths, cycle paths and bridleways, as well as improved signage and new toilet facilities.
There were even proposals for a water-taxi to Downham Market, a canoe-slalom, and ice skating facilities.
Whilst these plans would doubtless bring increased tourism and economic growth to Downham Market and its surrounding areas, there has nevertheless been some scepticism. Locals have suggested that the plans are overly ambitious, and have expressed concern that the narrow country roads surrounding the Denver Complex would not stand up to the increased usage.
Certainly, water-taxis and ice-rinks seem an unlikely attraction in a village with barely more facilities than a field, two pubs and a post office.
With no set dates, plans for the project are still at a very early stage, and funding is still to be secured. However, if successful, the OWLP hope that the renovations to the site will “create a sustainable legacy at the Denver Complex”.
Although ambitious in some areas, even the more minor planned developments would surely provide benefits both to the community, and to the economic growth of Downham Market and its surrounding districts. It is certainly a project to be watched with some interest.