First withdraws service from Costessey store car park over access problems

A major bus operator has pulled out of using a stop at a revamped supermarket on the outskirts of the city because of concerns over safety.

Work to extend the Sainsbury's store at the Longwater Retail Park, in Costessey, included a change in design of the car park, which resulted in the bus stop being moved and the road layout altered.

The change led to concerns being raised about the narrowness of the bus access roads and distance from the bus stop to the store.

And now it has emerged that First has stopped its buses from picking up passengers from the car park.

A spokesman for First said the company initially withdrew its 16/19A services from operating through Sainsbury's car park while the store's alterations were being carried out.

She said the company planned to resume services to the new bus shelter, but added: 'The problem is the road layout that accesses the shelter. While the exit of the roundabout is suitable for buses, the right-hand turn into the car park is fraught with danger as the carriageway is not wide enough to cope with the size of buses that we operate on our services. This is a real shame because the carriageway from the bus layby onwards is suitable (even taking into account the particularly bendy road layout) but owing to the narrowness of the road between the roundabout and the bus shelter, we are unable to access it.'

A spokesman for Norfolk Buswatch, which has previously raised concerns about the new car park layout, said: 'I think our major concern is that the development of the car park has created a lot more traffic congestion in the area, causing a lot more disruption and the fact that public transport can't get in there is exacerbating the problem.'

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The bus stop is currently being used by King's Lynn-based Norfolk Green, which operates a free bus to the site. A 40-year-old bus passenger at the bus stop on the car park, who did not want to be named, said the new car park layout was not particularly bus friendly. She said: 'First bus doesn't use the bus stop – I don't think it would get round if its a big double decker. It's very, very tight especially on the corners.'

A spokesman for Sainsbury's said, 'Naturally we are disappointed that First Bus has decided to suspend its service to our Longwater store and we will look to discuss this with them. However, in the meantime our free shuttle bus will continue to be available to take our customers to and from the store.'

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