The eight months of disruption to revamp one of Norwich's busiest roundabouts has been defended by council leaders - who also revealed they ruled out a longer break in work over Christmas.

Work to make £4.4m worth of controversial changes to Heartsease roundabout begins today, bringing road closures and delays until April next year.

Norwich Evening News: The Heartsease roundabout in NorwichThe Heartsease roundabout in Norwich (Image: Denise Bradley)

While there will be a pause on work between December 23 and January 3, Norfolk County Council has come under fire from businesses in the road who fear their festive trading will take a hit.

But County Hall leaders have defended the amount of time it will take to do the work and explained why there is not a longer pause in work over Christmas.

READ MORE: Norwich's Queens Road set for major traffic changes

Norwich Evening News: Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructureGraham Plant, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructure (Image: Newsquest)

Graham Plant, the council's cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructure, said: "The works to improve the safety and operation of the Heartsease roundabout are significant in their scope and there is limited road space in which to operate during the construction phase.

"All works are being planned to minimise disruption, but also to ensure the safety of the construction operatives and the highway users. Every effort will be made to complete the works as soon as possible.

"Consideration was given to breaking the scheme into two parts to avoid the Christmas trading period.

"But this would have significantly lengthened the duration of the works, incurred additional costs and was thought to be more disruptive to local people, with several changes to the traffic management in the area."

Norwich Evening News: Labour county councillor Alison Birmingham (left) at Heartsease roundaboutLabour county councillor Alison Birmingham (left) at Heartsease roundabout (Image: Archant 2021)

The comments came after Labour county councillor Alison Birmingham tabled a question to the Conservative-controlled cabinet saying people and businesses were "incredulous" the project would take so long.

Norwich Evening News: The changes to Heartsease roundaboutThe changes to Heartsease roundabout (Image: Norfolk County Council)

The changes to the Heartsease roundabout include one-lane entry and exit, along with new pedestrian and cycle crossings.