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Westlegate plans move forward

PUBLISHED: 07:30 07 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:27 02 July 2010

An artist's impression of how a pedestrianised Westlegate could look.

An artist's impression of how a pedestrianised Westlegate could look.

The long-awaited pedestrianisation of a Norwich city centre street has edged nearer after a blueprint was agreed which acknowledges the benefits its closure to traffic would bring.

The long-awaited pedestrianisation of a Norwich city centre street has edged nearer after a blueprint was agreed which acknowledges the benefits its closure to traffic would bring.

A major row broke out over the future of Westlegate last month when Conservative county councillors reacted with anger because officers suggested the road could be shut.

Businesses in the city, led by John Lewis, say closing the road would breathe new life into the area and cut congestion, while Norwich City Council leader Steve Morphew has made clear he wants the road to be closed.

But the Norwich Highways Agency Committee, made up of city and county councillors, has twice blocked the closure and county councillors were angry when their own officers revived the possibility of shutting Westlegate in the Norwich Area Transport Strategy.

That strategy is a blueprint for transport in the city centre and is linked to funding from the Northern Distributor Road (NDR) and the Joint Core Strategy, which will determine where thousands of homes and jobs will be created.

Seven Conservative councillors last month agreed to delete all reference of Westlegate being closed from the strategy, but at a meeting of Norfolk County Council's cabinet yesterday the strategy was rubber-stamped - with the closure of Westlegate still mentioned in the documents.

Transport officials at Norfolk County Council analysed the impact of any closure and believe it would cause a delay to drivers of a maximum of 30 seconds.

Members of the cabinet also agreed to underwrite a £39.7m shortfall in the cost of the NDR - because the government only agreed to fund it from Postwick to the A140 - by borrowing the money.

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