'Continental look' - £2.5m Norwich street revamp comes to a close

The new-look Tombland in Norwich as people enjoy being out and about as the Covid restrictions are e

The new-look Tombland in Norwich as people enjoy being out and about as the Covid restrictions are eased. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Businesses and pedestrians have praised the "al fresco, continental feel" of a Norwich street following £2.5m works being completed. 

The revamp of Tombland has now finished as part of a Transport for Norwich scheme which began in August last year.

Ruby Dunford, general manager of Giggling Squid Thai restaurant, believes the work has had a positive impact on Tombland businesses with customers sat enjoying food and drink in the sunshine on Monday.

She said: "I think it looks really good. People are using the benches and it creates a nicer atmosphere. It is smarter and cleaner." 

As part of the works, the public toilets and bus shelters have been removed, while some trees were also cut down.

William Feeney, who works for Norwich Probation on the adjacent Palace Street, said the changes are for the better, and described the former toilets as "an eyesore". 


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"It is a nice area to sit out," Mr Feeney added. "It makes life easier so it gets the thumbs up from me." 

Work has been completed on the Tombland revamp in Norwich city centre 

Work has been completed on the Tombland revamp in Norwich city centre - Credit: Ben Hardy

Pedestrian Paul Holmes, who was sat on a bench waiting for his bus, said: "I do not mind the continental look. I have no problem at all with that. I like seeing a bit of life. 

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"The area has changed several times over the last 30 years but the pandemic might have made people think more about eating and drinking outside."

Norwich resident Paul Holmes said he likes the new continental look of Tombland 

Norwich resident Paul Holmes said he likes the new continental look of Tombland - Credit: Ben Hardy

Another pedestrian, Ziggy Bracey, said it reminded her of Bristol and described the changes as pretty.

Mike Stonard, cabinet member for sustainable and inclusive growth at Norwich City Council, said: "I went down there on Saturday and the difference it has made is wonderful.

"It had become slightly neglected and, for such an historic and important part of the city that was a shame.

"It's the way people approach the cathedral and yet it had become rather run-down, with the closed toilets.

"But it has gone from that to somewhere we can be really proud of. I was delighted to see how open the area is. It is really beautiful, and people are able to enjoy eating outside in a way they couldn't before."

Works to improve Tombland for pedestrians and cyclists has begun. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Traffic cones set up during the Tombland roadworks - Credit: Denise Bradley

Shun Tomii, who runs Shiki on Tombland, said he was pleased the works were finished but would have liked to have seen improvements on the cobble stones outside his restaurant. 

There had been a petition to stop the felling of two lime trees, but it was not successful. The council has said five new trees will be replanted.

Why were the works delayed?

A combination of Covid-19, weather, Brexit and the discovery of skeletons meant the renovation of Tombland was longer than initially anticipated.

The first phase of work began in August last year, with the second phase starting in November.

It had been due to be completed by the end of March, but that then slipped to the end of April and then to the end of May.

Norfolk County Council had blamed "situations out of our control" for the work taking longer than planned.

They said there had been issues in the supply chain caused by "a combination of Brexit and Covid-19", which meant delivery of materials to complete the paving work was delayed.

Work was also paused when six skeletons - and part of a seventh - were uncovered during digging.

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