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Are you dead against it? Should more streets in Norwich city centre be pedestrianised?

PUBLISHED: 17:03 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:40 30 September 2019

A call has been made for St Peters Street to be pedestrianised Picture : ANTONY KELLY

A call has been made for St Peters Street to be pedestrianised Picture : ANTONY KELLY

It is a debate that has grown near and dear to fans of Alan Partridge - and one the city's most famous fictional son has made his own views on crystal clear.

But despite Mr Partridge being "dead against it", a call for further pedestrianisation of Norwich city centre has been made by campaigners.

With the number of car-free streets in the city steadily growing over the decades, a petition has been launched to add a string of additional roads to those closed to traffic - following a day of action just a few weekends ago.

In the wake of the city's first observation of World Car Free Day on Sunday, September 22, campaigners have urged transport bosses to consider three more streets for pedestrianisation - St Peter's Street, Gaol Hill and Exchange Street.

Matthew White, founder of the Car Free Norwich campaign group, said: "The city council has already moved through traffic from a lot of parts of the city centre, which is brilliant, but I've been thinking for some time that it needs to do more.

"This particular area has been on my mind for some time - it is a part of symbolic importance because it is where City Hall and the market are and is right in the centre of Norwich.

"I find it a bit embarrassing we still have vehicles right in the very centre of the city."

Mike Stonard, left, hosts a celebration of the 50th anniversary of London Street being pedestrianised. Picture: Sonya DuncanMike Stonard, left, hosts a celebration of the 50th anniversary of London Street being pedestrianised. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Mike Stonard, Norwich City Council's cabinet member for transport, speaking on behalf of TfN, said: "Pedestrianisation can bring significant benefits to the city both in terms of local business and the environment.

"We have made significant progress in this area, most recently with Westlegate, but all changes to the city's road network must be considered carefully.

Alan Partridge may be reluctant to support a petition calling for more Norwich roads to be pedestrianised. Picture: Sonya DuncanAlan Partridge may be reluctant to support a petition calling for more Norwich roads to be pedestrianised. Picture: Sonya Duncan

"Gaol Hill and Exchange Street featured as an aspiration in our original transport strategy but to date other projects have taken priority.

"It is possible to close St Peters Street, as demonstrated for numerous events, but it currently has strategic importance in terms of the access provided to two of the city's main car parks."

L0234 London Street pedestrianisation ceremony jul 1967 Archant picL0234 London Street pedestrianisation ceremony jul 1967 Archant pic

The petition, which had been signed by 124 people at time of going to press, can be found on Change.org.

How pedestrianisation evolved in Norwich

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While these latest calls are recent, the pedestrianisation of Norwich city centre is nothing new and has evolved across the decades.

The first street to by shut to traffic was London Street which, during the 1960s, became the UK's first pedestrianised street.

Gaol Hill in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYGaol Hill in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

However, this decision came more by chance than design. The road was closed to traffic as a result of a burst water mains, but during this time traders noticed an upturn in business, so city planners decided to make the closure permanent. The pedestrianisation began on Monday, July 17, 1967.

Lower Goat Lane and Dove Street followed in the same decade, before Little London Street and Hay Hill were added in the 1970s.

How the pedestrianisation of London Street was reported back in 1967. Picture: Local Recall ProjectHow the pedestrianisation of London Street was reported back in 1967. Picture: Local Recall Project

In the 1980s, traffic was removed from several more city streets, including the Gentleman's Walk area, Bedford Street and Pottergate.

The 1990s saw Mountergate, King Street, Timberhill and Orford Street added, while a range of other singular streets were added following the turn of the century.

The most recent changes have seen the Westlegate area also pedestrianised in a £3.3m scheme.

'Access to Dixons'

One person who has made his views on pedestrianising the city crystal clear is the city's most famous fictional son.

In the second episode of I'm Alan Partridge, titled 'Alan Attraction', Steve Coogan's eccentric character breaches the topic during an intimate moment with a female friend.

In the scene, he says: "Jill, what do you think of the pedestrianisation of Norwich city centre? I'll be honest, I'm dead against it.

"I mean, people forget that traders need access to Dixons - though they do say it'll help people in wheelchairs."

The memorable scene, which was first broadcast on November 10, 1997, has become one of the most popular events in the pompous radio presenter's adventures, which have also seen him offend countless farmers and attempt to convince a partner that U2 singer Bono lives at Blickling Hall.

However, with Car Free Norwich proposing the roads maintain restricted access for delivery vehicle, it remains to be seen if Mr Partridge would support them.

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