Should cars be banned from Norwich's steepest hill?

Gas Hill in Norwich

Gas Hill in Norwich - calls have been made to stop cars from using part of the road. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

It's renowned as the city's steepest hill and a popular, if lung-busting, route for walkers and joggers - but is it time to ban cars from Gas Hill?

For a county with a reputation for being flat, the hill, with its 10.7pc average gradient, bucks the trend.

Most motorists tend to avoid the steeply rising road, and this has prompted a call for part of it to be designated as car-free.

Gas Hill in Norwich

Gas Hill in Norwich - should cars be banned from the city's steepest hill? - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Paul Andell, who lives at the top of Gas Hill, in St Leonards Road, recently asked a meeting of Norfolk County Council's Conservative controlled cabinet if it would consider partially shutting the road.

He asked councillors to consider closing it, from the junction with William Kett Close, for all but essential services and emergency vehicles.

Gas Hill in Norwich

Gas Hill in Norwich is popular with joggers. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

He said that could create a 'green corridor', linking Riverside and Kett's Heights.

But Martin Wilby, the council's cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, ruled it out.

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

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He said: "It is agreed that the gradient and road width from William Kett Close to St Leonard’s Road is such that some drivers may choose to avoid using Gas Hill.

"The suggestion to close this section has some merit, although as drivers are already choosing to avoid Gas Hill, an enhanced environment already exists for active travel.

"As such closing the upper section of Gas Hill by means of a Traffic Regulation Order would have limited impact.

"In terms of the injury accident history at St Leonard’s Road junction, there has been one slight injury accident in the last five years."

A pedestrian makes her way down a snowy Gas Hill in Norwich.

A pedestrian makes her way down Gas Hill in the snow. - Credit: Simon Finlay

There were mixed views among people living in the area.

Emma Zangs, who lives in St Leonards Road, said: "I'd love to see it pedestrianised. There's so many other roads we can use, so we rarely use it and it is really dangerous for vehicles when it's icy.

"People love cycling and jogging on it and it would be great if it was only used for that.

Competitors in the Gas Hill Gasp. Picture: Denise Bradley

Competitors in the popular Gas Hill Gasp, where cyclists race up the road. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant 2013

"And you get cars speeding up there at night - they seem to use it as part of some sort of circuit."

Jackie Savory, of William Kett Close, was not convinced there was a need to close it, although she said bigger lorries should be stopped from using it.

Gas Hill in Norwich

Gas Hill in Norwich - Credit: Sonya Duncan

That's a bit steep

While Gas Hill is known as Norwich's steepest hill, it pales in comparison to some others in the country.

Lincoln's appropriately named Steep Hill, which connects the area around the castle and cathedral to the city centre, has an average gradient of 14pc.

Steeper still is Blake Street in Sheffield, which featured in the 1997 film The Full Monty. That street has a peak gradient of 17.4pc.

The Old Wyche Road in Malvern, Worcestershire is the second steepest in the country, with a maximum gradient of 20.2pc.

But the most vertiginous of all is Vale Street in Bristol, with an average gradient of 22pc.