Norwich city centre road shake-up plan sparks controversy

An ambitious �1.1m scheme to transform where traffic can go in Norwich city centre came close to falling at the first hurdle today, after a county councillor tried to block a key part of the project.

Council planners want to change traffic flows in a number of streets, cutting the number of buses which go down St Stephens Street to cut congestion and speed up bus services. Instead, Chapel Field North would be made two-way and new bus stops installed in Theatre Street to pick up and drop-off passengers.

That would also mean there would need to be changes to the Grapes Hill roundabout, Cleveland Road and Bethel Street would become two way. Little Bethel Street would be closed and traffic heading down Westlegate, the proposed pedestrianisation of which has long been a source of tension between city and county councillors, would be forced to turn right. At a meeting of the Norwich Highways Agency Committee, councillors were asked to agree to put the proposals out for public consultation.

But committee chairman Tony Adams, Conservative county councillor for Drayton and Horsford, said he was unhappy at the idea of preventing traffic heading down Westlegate from continuing up into Rampant Horse Street and Theatre Street.

He said: 'We know the city shops are struggling with the economic situation and I don't think we should be looking at anything that discourages people from the county to come into the city. Closing Westlegate or stopping a right turn there is wrong at this stage.'

He proposed what he described as a 'very slight' change to the traffic regulation orders proposed in the scheme, for the right turn only arrangement from Westlegate to be ditched. When county council officer David Allfrey asked to speak on that proposal, Mr Adams said he would 'rather he didn't' but other members said they wanted to hear him out.

Mr Allfrey said removing that element of the scheme would render the whole project unworkable, as it would heap too much pressure on the reconfigured Grapes Hill roundabout.

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The proposal by Mr Adams was defeated by the other voting members and it was agreed to put the whole scheme out for public consultation.

What do you think of the scheme? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email