North Norfolk District Council

Satsuma started working with North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) in 2022 after it commissioned the creation of a North Walsham Vision and Marketing Plan to help business and the wider community to encourage them to think aspirationally and creatively about their town and its future.

North Walsham was mid-way through a four-year Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) Regeneration Program which began in 2020.

Funded by Historic England, NNDC and the Government’s ‘Building Back Better Fund,’ the HAZ program should have been seen as the perfect opportunity to capitalise on the town’s unique heritage stories and assets and inject some fresh, forward-thinking ideas. However, the program was met with some resistance with negativity largely coming from a small number of business owners resistant to change.


Work Included

The initial project lasted four months and allowed us to spend plenty of time on the ground in North Walsham, exploring the town’s ambitions and opportunities and assessing what was required to develop a sense of place and identity in order to create a long-term strategy.

During this time, we carried out dozens of interviews with stakeholders to gather a full picture of what local people think of the town and how they want to improve it.

This has helped us identify some key themes to explore as well as create key recommendations with a roadmap for the newly regenerated town centre inclusive of specific actions and projects.

These were provided as tangible opportunities to capitalise on town centre improvements and to explain ways in which North Walsham can flourish as a community hub and as a platform for economic, social and cultural activities and interventions.

We worked closely with the local church, pub landlords, shop owners and local councillors and among recommendations was support of a local Business Partnership to generate role models for the business community. We also reintroduced the council spokespeople to the editor of the local paper, helping forge a new relationship based around raising the reputation of the town and preventing the negative voices having the monopoly.

Importantly, we also explored opportunities for youth engagement, speaking to high school pupils on their experiences growing up in the town. This led to the backing of a new project to create a hub in the town centre for students, focusing on apprenticeship opportunities and working with the local high schools on work experience placements to create better cohesion between the younger and older generations.

A survey of 564 young people was carried out which found:

  • 400 said the town did not currently have enough in terms of facilities and resources to access for young people while 150 were satisfied.
  • Of the choices offered to them, 400 said access to free Wi-Fi would improve their lives, 350 said they wanted access to a meeting or socialising place, 250 wanted more activity spaces such as bike tracks and parkland and 250 would like to see more events or social opportunities organised for them.
  • A further 200 would like to see more public art or graffiti walls and space, 175 wanted access to youth support workers and another 175 wanted support to develop new skills and hobbies.
  • 150 were in support of a youth council, 100 wanted more volunteering opportunities in the community and with local businesses and 75 were interested in opportunities to give back to the local community in other ways such as gardening projects and community litter picks.
  • The majority wanted provision of youth resources in the heart of the town centre.

This led to the creation of the Phoenix Project in the town centre which is now up and running, providing a home for the Youth Council, a music studio, a student-run coffee shop and a volunteer programme.


The town’s vision for the future started with this project.

It was used to develop a full picture of the town and the opportunities it must harness to improve its reputation and better engage with internal and external stakeholders.

This included an inventory of assets such as the thriving church, beautiful marketplace, excellent high school, and a range of local independent shops. These were earmarked to create a calendar of events and opportunities for these organisations and landmarks to work together, allow people to access multiple resources in town and create a comprehensive plan.

A five-year plans of aims and objectives were created as a result of our work, tied into a new vision, mission and values statement for the town.

We set up a community Facebook group for North Walsham which grew rapidly to several hundred members over a six month period and now has a life of its own.

Finally, we provided a full list of worksheets and toolkits for businesses to use free of charge to amplify local communications. This included helping a number of businesses get online for the first time – with introductions into building a simple website and launching social media channels. These were supported by drop in clinics for business owners in the town.


Meet the team involved