Concerns have been raised around the safety and design of the bus bays in the newly revamped St Stephens Street in the centre of Norwich.

The 'sawtooth-style' bus bays which line either side of the busy shopping thoroughfare were installed as part of the £6.1m Transforming Cities Fund redevelopment project.

The new design sees the back end of double-decker buses jut out into the road with little room for other vehicles or road users to manoeuvre past.

Cyclists say the new layout has made the road more dangerous for them, but First Buses insist the changes have improved safety.

Jamie Osborn, who represents the Greens on both Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council, said there needs to be a more joined up approach when it comes to how the county council deals with infrastructure changes in the city.

He continued: "Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent in the last few years, and it's not clear what the benefit is to the city.

"There have been a number of safety concerns raised about the works in St Stephens.

"I've asked to see the safety reports because I believe that the way that this has been implemented has not reflected well on the city and is not helping to deliver what the aim should be - which is accessible, safe and effective public transport.

"Safety concerns and concerns about the design have been raised over a number of years - including by myself - and the end result is not getting value for money."

Norwich Evening News: Buses in St Stephens Street, NorwichBuses in St Stephens Street, Norwich (Image: Denise Bradley/Archant 2022)

County Hall has defended the changes saying Norwich "should be proud" of the new layout, which makes better use of the available space.

A spokesman for First Eastern Counties said: "The new sawtooth bus stand infrastructure in St Stephens Street has been designed and fitted in partnership with local bus operators.

"We welcome the new design as it is a great improvement over what was in situ previously and it allows buses to pull up very easily alongside the kerb, which is especially important for our passengers with mobility issues.

"The design, that was tested prior to being built, allows for a wide variety of different bus types to use them without having to reverse off the stand helping to improve safety in the road space."

But Peter Silburn, of Norwich Cycling Campaign, criticised the redevelopment and described the new layout as dangerous for 'non-dominant' road users, such as cyclists.

Norwich Evening News: Peter Silburn, membership secretary of Norwich Cycling CampaignPeter Silburn, membership secretary of Norwich Cycling Campaign (Image: Peter Silburn)

"We raised our concerns at the original consultation phase but we were ignored," he said.

"Essentially these changes have made the road more dangerous. That's a serious concern.

"Funding from the Transforming Cities Fund is for improving bus stop infrastructure but also for pedestrians and cyclists - and they've been overlooked. It's made things worse.

"It's not fit for purpose and won't be future-proof.

"The design seems experimental - the angled bays creates a blind spot as you cycle past. That is a concern.

"It's not at full capacity yet so you're not seeing the full dangers.

"It's frustrating that Norwich is quite a good city for active travel and public transport and measures have been taken over many years to restrict cars and make it a pleasant environment, but it seems in the last few years that there's been a change."


Sally Henshaw is manager at independent footwear shop Mr Shoes in St Stephens Street.

Norwich Evening News: Sally Henshaw, manager at independent footwear store Mr Shoes in St Stephens Street, NorwichSally Henshaw, manager at independent footwear store Mr Shoes in St Stephens Street, Norwich (Image: Maya Derrick)

She said: "To be honest I've not seen many issues but I haven't really been looking for them.

"We're happy that St Stephens has reopened again - we can breathe again now.

"Footfall has definitely picked up."

Sam Taylor at nearby catering retailers Nisbets added: "We have a big view of the street. We've had plenty of people complaining that there are not shelters up yet.

Norwich Evening News: Sam Taylor of Nisbets in St Stephens StreetSam Taylor of Nisbets in St Stephens Street (Image: Maya Derrick)

"The bays have an interesting look and design - I guess there must have been a reason for it."

At the other end of the thoroughfare, Toni Utting at Siddalls of Norwich said: "People talk about the new glorified bus station.

Norwich Evening News: Anna Wadham, Sarah Thompson and Toni Utting of Siddalls in St Stephens Street, NorwichAnna Wadham, Sarah Thompson and Toni Utting of Siddalls in St Stephens Street, Norwich (Image: Maya Derrick)

"We're not really happy with the end result.

"It was a total waste money. With £6.1m, they could've straightened the pavements and made them flatter.

"They could've done a lot more with that money."