31 May 2024


As we head into our largest-ever, £9 billion proposed business plan for 2025 – 2030, we’re engaging with stakeholders across the region to make sure their voices are reflected in our plans. Angela McCabe, Head of Planning and Stakeholder Engagement for our strategic alliances, shares how our first engagement session for Norfolk and Suffolk went.


Last week we embarked on the first of our AMP8 Engagement roadshows across the region, in Norwich, to talk to all of our local authority stakeholders across Norfolk and Suffolk about the £2 billion of capital infrastructure investment we’ve proposed in our 2025 – 2030 business plan. We wanted to give one source of the truth to all of our stakeholders about what they can expect from Anglian Water.


With a 253% increase in planning applications set to land on Local Planning Authorities’ (LPAs) desks over the next 5 years – and £476 million earmarked in our business plan to accommodate housing growth – it’s vital that we engage early to help support LPAs. This is not even to mention the needs of the other exciting infrastructure projects taking place across Norfolk and Suffolk, from the likes of Sizewell C to the Norwich to Tilbury Wind Farms. Projections show that the East of England’s population is set to swell, with 720,000 additional residents by 2043, so it’s clear that there will be significant pressure on local authorities’ planning resources. At Anglian Water, we feel that giving the LPAs we are impacting advanced warning of our plans is a key part of living our values, Doing the Right Thing, Building Trust and Always Exploring.


Although growth is a key driver in our long term planning for the region, we aren’t statutory consultees for development applications – something which often comes as a surprise to our stakeholders. Under the Water Industry Act 1991, anyone has an automatic right to connect to our foul sewers. This means that, although increased development and population growth puts pressure on our network, our involvement in the planning process is purely voluntary.


We’ve already seen the importance of engaging early with LPAs on our Strategic Pipeline project, which will transfer water from the wetter north of our region to the south and east, where water resources are scarcer. For this project, we went through traditional planning permission routes – so coordinating this process across several counties and local authorities has proved one of the pipeline’s biggest challenges.


Our experience with the Strategic Pipeline project has placed the importance of investing in our relationships with LPAs into sharp focus, so that both we and local authorities can plan for the long term future, rather than on a scheme-by-scheme basis. Building this kind of long term resilient infrastructure is key to keeping our customers’ taps running and toilets flushing for generations to come, so it’s vital that we invest in our relationships with LPAs now to facilitate this investment for our region.


This event in Norwich was only the start of our engagement journey – we want to explore ideas of how we can work together and overcome some of the planning challenges to help improve determination turnaround dates. We had some great feedback from our breakout sessions, where we heard from all of our stakeholders about what they believe are the main challenges that lie ahead. From market uncertainty to crucial growth for essential housing and businesses being blocked, these concerns make it clear that we need to attract the right resources and expertise. We also heard some hard facts about what we can do better – from engaging better to having clearer alignment across the many different departments of Anglian Water. All of this was exactly what we wanted to hear, as we always want to improve.


Opportunity was the theme of the day across all of our speakers, from our CEO Peter Simpson to Steven Lynch, Executive Director for Easter Powerhouse, who argued that the opportunities are endless for the East of England – but we must be better at collaborating to make these opportunities happen! Steven has long been an advocate of our long term, 25-year delivery strategy business plan, and believes political parties also need to think longer term, in generational cycles instead of political cycles, to ensure we have the vital infrastructure (including water) in place to ensure the region prospers to its full potential.


The infrastructure being delivered across the next 5 years is only the start of things to come. Our investment is long term, as are our commitments to our purpose of bringing social and environmental prosperity to the region that we serve.


Our next event takes place in the northern part of the region across Lincolnshire, with stakeholders receiving an invite from us shortly. We are looking forward to building further relationships and how we can collaborate to deliver in the north of our region, ahead of our largest-ever investment between 2025 and 2030.