Major disruption to city centre will be 'worth it' in long run

Worrk progressing on the £6.1m shake-up for St Stephens Street, one of the main shopping areas in No

Worrk progressing on the £6.1m shake-up for St Stephens Street, one of the main shopping areas in Norwich city centre. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams 2022.Tel : 07398238853

City Hall has insisted that the disruption caused by the £6.1m revamp of St Stephens Street will be "worth it", amid mounting frustration about the impact the project is having.

The work, which started in January, has seen much of the central thoroughfare shut, with no access for buses or cars and mounds of dirt and rubble lining the route.

Caroline Ackroyd, Liberal Democrat city councillor for Eaton, raised the issue at a Norwich City Council meeting this week.

She said the disruption was regularly brought up with her by residents, and questioned whether "the ends justify the means".

"Residents are concerned about disruption to bus journeys, difficulty accessing shops and facilities in St Stephens, the length of time needed to complete the works and, not least, the huge sum of money involved," she added.

Mike Stonard, the cabinet member for inclusive and sustainable growth, said the scheme will improve bus services, particularly for areas in the south like Eaton, and help promote sustainable transport and improve air quality.

He said: "I am confident that the disruption will indeed be worth it in the longer term.

"The city cannot afford to stand still at the current time and needs to promote further investment in the city and more sustainable patterns of transport.”

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Mr Stonard highlighted new 'sawtooth' bus parking bays, which he said would reduce delays and help people with restricted mobility board buses.

He added: "There will also be more places to sit and an improved environment in St Stephens Street.

"This should in turn promote further investment in Norwich city centre which is already seeing considerable levels of investment being made in its retail sector."

Mr Stonard also stressed that the work was being undertaken by the county council, which he said was working hard to minimise disruption and keep buses running and shops open.

Last year county council bosses said the work was expected to start in January and last six months.

However, in March it said work would not be completed until the autumn.