Westlegate closure plans aired again
Sarah HallThe thorny issue of whether to close a busy Norwich street to traffic has received another airing, less than a month after seven councillors voted to strike the suggestion out of a blueprint for transport in the city.Sarah Hall
The thorny issue of whether to close a busy Norwich street to traffic has received another airing, less than a month after seven councillors voted to strike the suggestion out of a blueprint for transport in the city.
Businesses such as John Lewis and Marks and Spencer believe the closure of Westlegate would breathe new life into the area and wrote to council bosses urging them to press ahead with the plans.
The proposal has foundered in the past, but the scheme seemed to have been revived when council officers concluded the scheme could go ahead as part of the Norwich Area Transportation Strategy (NATS), and suggested it could happen before the Northern Distributor Road is built.
But, at a meeting earlier this month of Norfolk County Council's planning, transportation, environment and waste overview and scrutiny panel, seven Conservative county councillors voted to put off any closure until after the NDR is built, to the fury of supporters who pointed out none of those Tories lived in the city or represented city wards.
Yesterday one of them - Tony Adams, who represents Drayton and Horsford - chaired a meeting of the city and county councillors where the NATS strategy was discussed again.
However, there were no fireworks at this meeting, with Judith Lubbock, Liberal Democrat city councillor for Eaton, the only councillor who revisited the Westlegate issue in any detail.
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She said: 'With the pedestrianisation of Westlegate people would have an improved experience in our city. It's the missing link, really and it would not be so costly.'
Rupert Read, Green city councillor for Wensum ward, agreed but said he could not support the NATS because of its connection to the NDR.
Councillors agreed to endorse changes to a small number of NATS policies, but a final decision to agree the NATS strategy will be made when Norfolk County Council meets next month.
Transport officials at Norfolk County Council are understood to be working on a report detailing what the impact of closing Westlegate will be on other parts of the city.
The cabinet meeting will decide whether to rubberstamp the strategy, either with or without the section which suggests Westlegate could be closed before the NDR is built.
Although Mr Adams made no comment on the Westlegate plans at yesterday's meeting, speaking afterwards he said he still believed it should not happen before the NDR is built.
He said: 'My personal view is totally unchanged. There are a lot of issues surrounding it, particularly with what would happen to the outer ring road if Westlegate is closed before the NDR is built.'