Call to speed up roadworks threatening Norwich's 'Fine City' label

Works are taking place in St Stephen's Street as part of a £6.1m revamp 

Works are taking place in St Stephen's Street as part of a £6.1m revamp - Credit: Ben Hardy

A councillor who voted for the £6.1m revamp of St Stephens Street has called for roadworks around Norwich to be finished more quickly.

Brian Watkins, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at County Hall, said the amount of roadworks happening around the city risks Norwich's tag of 'A Fine City'.

Norwich received £32m from the government's Transforming Cities Fund and has a finite time in which to spend the cash - so a number of major schemes are being done simultaneously.

That includes the revamp of St Stephens Street and work on Ipswich Road, Thorpe Road/Riverside Road and Aylsham Road.

Businesses in St Stephens Street have said changes there, which will make pavements wider for shoppers and make it easier for buses to get in and out, have cost them trade.

And Mr Watkins, a member of the committee which unanimously approved the scheme in June last year, urged Norfolk County Council to speed up work.

Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat group leader.

Brian Watkins, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Norfolk County Council - Credit: Liberal Democrats

He had voted for the St Stephens Street project, but had described it as "uninspiring".

And he said: "I wonder what visitors think of when they see the sign that welcomes them to 'A Fine City'.

"Yet when they try to walk up the main shopping thoroughfare they see the whole road closed off and no sign of anyone working on the road."

He said having multiple major roadworks happening all at once and taking so long was not encouraging people to shop in Norwich.

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 - Credit: Danielle Booden

Martin Wilby, Conservative-controlled Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport said: “I appreciate people’s frustrations but am confident the projects being undertaken will benefit the long term future of our city, its economy and the environment."

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He said the St Stephens Street scheme would cut pollution and congestion and help attract £18m in fleet improvements by First Bus.

Artist's impression of St Stephens Street Norwich revamp

An artist's impression of what the revamped St Stephens Street could look like. This image includes one of the 'sawtooth' bus bays. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

He said: "The completed scheme will provide a much-needed improvement to this key gateway to the city centre, improving accessibility, transit times and passenger information for residents and visitors for years to come."

He said the council tried to co-ordinate works and to complete schemes as soon as possible.

He said closing other roads could have meant schemes there were finished more quickly, but that they had been kept open during construction to prevent "significant disruption".