City transport vision hailed as ‘once in a lifetime’ chance

Castle Meadow with back drop of the city Of Norwich.Image taken 10-09-2019

Castle Meadow with back drop of the city Of Norwich.Image taken 10-09-2019 - Credit: Peter Dent

A revamp of Norwich's transport system, which could see the city get a multi-million pound share from a £1.2bn government pot, has been hailed as a 'once-in-a-lifetime opportunity'.

Martin Wilby, Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Martin Wilby, Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Schemes on the councillors' wish list for the project include a revamp of Castle Meadow, the expansion of Thickthorn Park and Ride, and new links to the airport and the University of East Anglia.

And now an application for the government's Transforming Cities fund is set to go before the county council's cabinet next month before being submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) at the end of November.

At a meeting on Wednesday, October 15, councillors on a joint committee made up of representatives from county, city and district councils, approved the draft of the application and recommended that Norfolk County Council's cabinet agrees to submit it.

Mike Stonard, Labour city councillor said he "absolutely welcomed" what had been agreed.

Thickthorn Park & Ride. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Thickthorn Park & Ride. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

"It will ensure we can move people more sustainably and cleanly," he added.

"You always wish you could do more but we're looking at tens of millions of pounds and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

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Martin Wilby, county council member for transport, said the funding Norwich would receive would be revealed in March 2020.

He said: "We all want to see a cleaner, greener transport system in the area and feedback from the DfT has been positive to our proposal."

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at County Hall, said: "There are a lot of good improvement schemes which have council support and will help the flow of people in and out of the city.

"It's always a bit uncomfortable to have to respond to government funding invitations on tight timetables but that's what we've got.

"It's good for the environment, the economy and the people of our city to get on with it."

But cycling campaigners and a Green councillor voiced concerns.

Richard Bearman, from the Norwich Cycling Campaign, said: "We're pleased to see extra money for sustainable transport - the issue is coming up with schemes that aren't usable by cyclists."

And Green councillor Denise Carlo said she was disappointed her party hadn't had a voice on the committee.