Norwich road closure 'would cost 30 seconds'

Shaun LowthorpeControversial plans to close a Norwich city centre street would add less than a minute to driver's journey times, transport officials have found.Shaun Lowthorpe

Controversial plans to close a city centre street would add less than a minute to driver's journey times, transport officials have found.

Moves to close Westlegate have been mired in a longstanding row over the impact it would have on traffic in the city centre.

Businesses and city councillors have long-supported a campaign to close it as part of a bid to improve shopping links in the city and cut pollution.

But Norfolk County Council has previously blocked any closure move- believing it would be better to wait until after the building of the Norwich northern distributor road (NDR) because of fears it would cause gridlock in the city.

Hopes were high that the deadlock had been broken and the closure could take place sooner rather than later after council transport officers concluded it could take place before the building of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road

But seven Conservative county councillors recently supported moves to delay any closure until after the building of the NDR - putting pressure on the ruling cabinet not to support it.

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Transport officials at Norfolk County Council have since analysed the impact of any closure and believe that the impact of delay is likely to be small and the closure could still be done before the road is built.

The officers found that a delay of between 10 and 30 seconds was likely with the higher level expected in morning and evening peak periods.

Any proposal to close the street will be part of a substantial package of transport measures for the whole of the Norwich area, which will be considered by the ruling county council cabinet next Tuesday .

These include more cycle ways, 20mph speed limits in Costessey, and buses only in St Stephen's Street and Prince of Wales Road.

Tony Adams, chairman of the Norwich Highways Agency, who led the Conservative vote for a delay, said he was sceptical about the findings.

'I would seriously question the figures,' Mr Adams said. 'This isn't just about the extra time it will take, it's about all the other problems you will get at Chapelfield and outside the Theatre Royal, which seems to have been completely ignored.'

Andrew Boswell, Green group leader, said the findings showed that there was no case for delaying the Westlegate closure plans.

'The attempt to try and stop what had already been agreed was totally unfounded and not based on any evidence,' Dr Boswell said. 'It's just a rearguard action and it's quite clear that it doesn't stack up.'

What do you think about Westlegate closure plans? Write to Evening News Letters at Prospect House Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email