Public to get say over multi-million pound Norwich Lanes shake-up

Artist's impression of revamped St Giles Street in Norwich

How St Giles Street could look if the 'Connecting the Norwich Lanes' project goes ahead. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

A multi-million pound scheme which could see more city roads closed to traffic to improve the Norwich Lanes will be put to the public for their views.

Councillors have said they are in support of the 'Connecting The Norwich Lanes' scheme which would see a string of changes in an area packed with Norwich's independent shops.

Proposals include:

  • Making the temporary exclusion of general traffic on St Benedicts Street and Exchange Street permanent.
  • A £470,000 project so traffic has to turn left from Charing Cross into Duke Street - stopping eastbound traffic trips across the city centre.
  • A £1.8m bridge between Duke Street and St Georges Street to fill the final missing link in the city centre section of the River Wensum path.
  • Schemes to make St Giles Street and Upper St Giles Street more pedestrian friendly.

Councillors on the Transforming Cities joint committee agreed on Thursday, June 10, to put proposals out for consultation, but acknowledged there have been concerns from some businesses.

The coronavirus pandemic triggered a decision to exclude general traffic in St Benedicts Street and Exchange Street.

Making that traffic ban permanent is one of the proposals, but that angered shopkeepers in St Benedicts, who say changes have already hit their businesses.

Councillor Mike Stonard. Pic: Archant.

Norwich city councillor Mike Stonard. - Credit: Archant

But Labour city councillor Mike Stonard said: "I think it will be good for The Lanes' economy.

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"Contrary to the fears which are always expressed, the evidence is that it does improve footfall.

"Every time we try to do something like this we hear the same arguments.

"So let's go out for consultation and talk to traders, but let's remember what the evidence shows us."

Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton. Picture: Liberal Democrats.

Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton. Picture: Liberal Democrats. - Credit: Liberal Democrats

County councillor Brian Watkins, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at County Hall, said: "We must remember that many local businesses are finding it hard to survive because of the pandemic."

Green city councillor Jamie Osborn and Labour county councillor Emma Corlett raised concerns over how the closures could reduce air quality in Bethel Street and Cleveland Road.

Officers said proposed changes to Grapes Hill roundabout would help address that.

Not all the schemes are funded yet, but some of the changes would be paid for from the £32m Transforming Cities fund.

Exchange Street, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Exchange Street, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021