Concern Christmas shopping could be hit by roundabout closure

Grapes Hill in Norwich

Grapes Hill in Norwich will be shut for resurfacing. Inset: Martin Wilby and Emma Corlett. - Credit: Archant

Concerns the closure of a busy roundabout could hamper Christmas shopping has prompted council bosses to lay on free park and ride buses to ease pressure on city roads.

Grapes Hill roundabout, Norwich. Roadworks will begin on Monday.Photo: Bill DarnellCopy: For:

Grapes Hill roundabout will be closed for resurfacing. - Credit: Bill Darnell

Grapes Hill roundabout will shut for resurfacing between 6.30pm on Saturday, November 20 and 6.30am on Monday, November 22.

That will mean diversions, including for shoppers heading to Chantry Place, The Forum and St Giles Street car parks.

Councillor Emma Corlett

Labour county councillor Emma Corlett. - Credit: Archant

And Emma Corlett, Labour county councillor for Town Close, had raised concerns about the impact at a weekend when many might have intended to head into the city for Christmas shopping.

She said: "After such a dire period we need to ensure local shops and local shoppers get the full benefit of the Christmas season.

"Clogged roads, disrupted public transport and frustration could ruin it and drive shoppers online."

She called for work to be done overnight or, if that was not possible, for park and ride sites to be open for the weekend and made free or cut-price.

And leaders at Norfolk County Council have said they are looking to lay on free park and ride services from Norwich Airport and Thickthorn on Sunday, November 21.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council Member for Highways, Infrastructure and Transport. Picture: Dan

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Martin Wilby, chair of the Transport for Norwich joint committee and the county council's cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, said keeping the roundabout open until 6.30pm on the Saturday aimed to minimise impact.

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He said the council also wanted to avoid clashing with Remembrance Sunday this weekend.

He said: "The nature of the resurfacing work means it’s not possible to carry it out overnight only without compromising the quality of the finished product and adding considerably to the length of time it would take to complete.

"It would also mean that the noisy elements of work would have to take place at night, which is something we can avoid with our agreed approach, keeping disturbance to residents as low as possible."

He added working at night to complete the £330,000 revamp would also cost "significantly more".

And he said: “To help ease congestion, we are working with Park and Ride operators to offer a free service on Sunday, November 21 from the Norwich Airport and Thickthorn sites and we encourage those accessing the city from outer areas to use this excellent service as we would at any other time.

"We understand this work will impact journey times but we are making every effort to raise awareness and help people plan ahead.

"Access to the city centre will be available throughout, including to Chantry Place, St Giles and The Forum car parks.

“I’d like to thank everyone for their patience while we complete this work and deliver the significant benefits the finished improvements will bring.”

Ms Corlett welcomed the free park and ride service. She said: "I think it's a reasonable compromise in the circumstances and I hope people will make full use of the free park and ride and consider using it more in the future."

Paul McCarthy. General manager of Chantry Place. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Paul McCarthy outside the main entrance to Chantry Place. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Paul McCarthy, general manager at Chantry Place, said: “While we had hoped that the resurfacing of Grapes Hill roundabout, and the associated road closures and diversions that necessitates, could take place overnight, we’ve been told this is not possible.

"As such we’ve worked with the council to agree a solution that still allows access to and from our car park and so minimise the disruption to our shoppers.

"Chantry Place will be open as normal and we’re looking forward to the works to Grapes Hill being complete in the lead up to the busy Christmas shopping period.”