'Unsafe' underpass could be ditched as part of £6.2m works

The Bowthorpe roundabout in Norwich.
Photo: Paul Hewitt
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The Bowthorpe roundabout where a mobility hub could be built - Credit: Paul Hewitt

Plans to scrap a city underpass beneath a busy stretch of road have been met with polarised opinions.

Under a raft of potential changes to Dereham Road costing £6.2m, Norfolk County Council is proposing a mobility hub for bus stops, Beryl bike bays and cycle and car club spaces on the Bowthorpe roundabout.

One aspect of the changes on the roundabout, which joins onto a 40mph dual carriageway in and out of Norwich from Costessey, is the removal of an underpass from Breckland Road in Costessey to Bowthorpe Park.

The plans to instead build an improved crossing on the road will go through a community consultation next year, according to Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport on the county council.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport. Pict

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

Dan Burrill, Costessey Town Council chairman, said: "My personal view is I like the idea of getting rid of the underpass. There are plenty of people that don't want to use it because it feels unsafe.

"There has been rather a lot of water collecting in the underpass in the past and it attracts a fair bit of graffiti. It adds to people's feelings of vulnerability."

He added he was not aware of anyone being a victim of crime in the subway but said some people crossed the busy Dereham Road instead to avoid the underground path.

Chairman of the Costessey Town Council, Dan Burrill.

Dan Burrill, chairman of Costessey Town Council - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Mr Burrill said he was in favour of the mobility hub - adding he liked "anything that makes public transport better".

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But Jon Watson, from Clover Hill, who is lead co-ordinator of Bowthorpe Neighbourhood Watch, said: "We welcome ideas that can help promote the use of public transport and better transport links – as long as it’s done in a safe way.

"The plans that have been put forward to remove the underpass and build a transport hub at the Bowthorpe Roundabout has already created concerns from some people living nearby in regards to safety of those who use the underpass to get across to Costessey - including many school children.

"The underpass is the safest way to get across. I'd prefer it to stay."

Bowthorpe campaigner Jon Watson has highlighted overgrown hedges and trees in the village.

Jon Watson, lead co-ordinator of Bowthorpe Neighbourhood Watch group - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

If the subway was removed it would be replaced with a community green space.