16/03/2023: Could Watton become a UK centre for digital and creative innovation?

A partnership between the Wayland Partnership and Breckland Council, with funding from Norfolk County Council, has seen £150,000 awarded to develop plans for a potentially world-class Digital & Creative Media Centre in Watton.

The proposed Wayland Digital & Creative Media Centre (DCMC), a project which has been led by the Wayland Partnership, would establish a community, business and leisure destination on Watton High Street, with facilities that could include an e-gaming arena, flexible digital business start-up offices, café space and training spaces. The project will be focussed on the growing digital and creative media sector which currently accounts up to 8% of the UK economy.

Norfolk County Council is to put £125,000 of the funding towards a yearlong pilot project within the existing Wayland House, trialling incubation and office space for digital and creative businesses as well as training provision. Funding will also be used to secure technical expertise to deliver a full business case. The Watton-based project bid was one of 12 across Norfolk to win funding through the first phase of the County Council's Norfolk Investment Framework funding round.

Breckland Council will contribute a further £25,000. Cllr Paul Claussen, Executive Member for Executive Member for Economic Development and Growth from Breckland Council, commented: "This is the first stage of this exciting new project for Watton. Over the next 12 month's the project will examine how they can leverage national funding opportunities to help develop a new facility in the heart of the town. The is an incredibly exciting first step in this project, which will help digital and creative businesses start up in Breckland, link into local colleges and school and train local people in a rapidly growing sector".

Cllr Fabian Eagle, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for growing the economy, said: "Not only does this exciting project add to Norfolk's creative industries by providing a hub in a market town for them to work and collaborate, but it also brings benefits to the town of Watton due to its central high street location. The new creative centre will help to increase accessibility to jobs in this sector and by being in such a prominent position near the local schools will hopefully widen pupils' knowledge of the exciting careers in Norfolk."

Bronwen Tyler Lead Trustee, the Wayland Partnership commented: "We are delighted to be one of the projects supported by the Norfolk County Council and Breckland Council. This funding will enable completion of the underpinning business case for the DCMC that we can use to help secure investment for this exciting initiative. The work that we have done to date has only reinforced our belief that the DCMC will be a real game changer, not only for Watton and Wayland but for Norfolk and the surrounding area."

David Dent Chair of the Wayland Chamber of Commerce: "The decision to support the DCMC through this fund is acknowledgement of the value this initiative can bring to Wayland, Watton High Street and our local digital and creative businesses, not only encouraging gaming and entrepreneurship but also providing additional leisure facilities to the area."

Last updated: 16/03/2023 14:22:26