Plan to ban cars from St Stephens Street in Norwich to take major step forward

Private cars on St Stephens Street in Norwich maybe a thing of the past if council plans go ahead.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY Private cars on St Stephens Street in Norwich maybe a thing of the past if council plans go ahead. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
11:57 AM

Radical changes to Norwich city centre, which will see cars banned from St Stephens Street, will be set in motion this week, with councillors set to agree to consult the public on the shake-up.

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Private cars on St Stephens Street in Norwich maybe a thing of the past if council plans go ahead.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYPrivate cars on St Stephens Street in Norwich maybe a thing of the past if council plans go ahead. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

The city and county councils have long wanted to remove general traffic from the road and are on the brink of getting their wish.

Earlier this year, highways bosses successfully got £2.6m from the government after submitting a Better Bus Area bid.

That money was to pay for a package of measures to speed up buses and one of the key things council bosses say is needed to do that is to stop the estimated 3,000 cars a day which use St Stephens Street. At a meeting of the Norwich Highways Agency Committee, made up of city and county councillors, this week, councillors are being urged to take a major step towards the scheme becoming reality.

They will be asked to give the go-ahead to sort out the traffic regulations which will shut St Stephens Street to cars and motorcycles.

Buses, taxis, coaches, bicycles and emergency vehicles will still be able to head down the street, but cars wanting to get across the city centre will instead have to head down Queens Road to All Saints Green and then travel down Westlegate to rejoin Red Lion Street.

Traffic heading down Westlegate will no longer be able to cross into Rampant Horse Street, in front of Marks and Spencer and Debenhams, but instead forced to turn right.

Bert Bremner, cabinet member for planning and transportation on Norwich City Council and vice-chairman of the joint committee, said: “It will make a big difference for the city. The city is thriving despite the double dip recession and this will help it further.

“So often in St Stephens Street the buses are held up because of the cars trying to get through and taking them out will make the buses so much more reliable.

“It will be a much better place for pedestrians and, with the bus station so close, it will turn the area into a real transportation hub.”

Bus companies have already welcomed the scheme, with First buses saying it would help with “more consistent journey times”.

The report which will come before councillors on Thursday states: “The major bus operators serving Norwich were consulted during the preparation of the Better Bus Area Bid and they all agreed that this was the one single scheme that would have the biggest impact on improving bus reliability in the city.”

The report adds: “St Stephens Street has historically been one of the busiest streets in the city for buses, with more services starting and terminating in the street than any other, except Castle Meadow. “It is used by over 4.2m bus passengers a year, around 13,500 on an average day. The long-term aim is to open up a direct pedestrian route between St Stephens Street and the bus station, but this relies on redevelopment of private land and is unlikely to happen in the forseeable future.”

Traffic counts show that nearly 5,000 vehicles a day use St Stephens Street, of which 1,500 are buses. The majority of the estimated 3,000 cars which use it are heading either for the Castle Mall car parks, or to the train station or Tombland areas.

As part of a separate scheme, council bosses also want to have buses travelling two ways down Chapel Field North, with cars heading into the city from that direction only able to get as far as the car park next to The Assembly House.

While that scheme missed out on funding from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, officers remain confident they can introduce the changes in the future.

Councillors will be asked on Thursday to agree that officers can carry out the necessary work to secure the necessary traffic orders while launching consultation with the public and ‘key stakeholders’.

Council bosses hope, that subject to consultation, work to close St Stephens Street and Surrey Street to traffic could be completed by March 2014.

A separate consultation is already under way on proposals for a £925,000 bus lane heading up Grapes Hill, using money from the Better Bus Area fund.

• To view photos of St Stephens Street through the years, view the photo gallery at the top-right of this page.

• Do you think banning cars from St Stephens Street is a good idea? Write to Norwich Evening News Letters, Prospect House. Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

60 comments

  • The Inner Linl Road is and has been a total diaster,bringing 1000s of vechicles into the city center and to St Stephens Street,not to mention Anglia Square and the Flover and the numerous Historic and Residential demoshlised.The Inner Link Road is hell on earth,and nobody takes responsibility for this disaster

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • What a boost for online shopping thi will be. Those silly enough to venture into Norwich will be able to see the results of NCC when they look at the number of empty shops ever increasing in number.

    Report this comment

    andy

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • I've lived in Norwich all my life and up until a few years ago did all my shopping here. I now won't go anywhere near the place - my money is now spent in more car friendly towns and cities and over the internet. This awful administration won't be happy until all non-bus traffic is banned from Norwich, turning it into a ghost-town with only a few Primark shoppers mooching about.

    Report this comment

    Tudor Bushe

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • I cannot see why the council sees this as a priority. Hardly any cars use St Stephens Street anymore mainly because of the buses clogging up the road. The congestion on St Stephens is caused by buses stopping outside of the bus stops to let oftake on passengers. Just last week the road was impassable because there was two buses parked side by side on both sides of the road letting passengers off. Moving these buses over to the White Elephant bus station would decrease this congestion more than banning cars.

    Report this comment

    themajor

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Be careful before you close St Stephens.... Checkout where those cars are coming from. Whatever you do, DON'T cross those folk from Newmarket Road, Ipswich Road, and Eaton! They could be late for their train, or coffee morning in Tombland, and they won't like it...... And just remember, when the NDR is built all traffic congestion will be eliminated, so we are told!

    Report this comment

    Stew Pydsodd

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • Three points spring to mind.- Why do we have a bus station at all, when more buses use St. Stephens? Teach the bus drivers some bus stop discipline, instead this free for all (Was in Manchester recently and buses waited to get into their respective stops) - not this free for all you have in Norwich. How many times have you senn a bus cause a tailback? - I have plenty of times! Final point, Will Bert Bremner give us our consultation, or is he empire building? I have had dealings with him before, and he is not the most pleasant person to deal with.

    Report this comment

    biglingers

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • parkeg1 this is Norfolk, We cant read, we cant write but we can drive Tractors :p

    Report this comment

    chebram71

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • The council will make this road bus only as that's all they know how to do, they have little idea when it comes to traffic management apart from thinking if we make it difficult for cars they might not come back. So we see traffic light timings changed to stop and slow down traffic, even though that's counter productive when you look at traffic managementmovement and environmentally a car that stops will then use more fuel to get going again producing more fumes. Those who use the roads in Norwich and drive a 15-20 mph even when it's clear should park up, which would aloow the traffic to flow which is the main word when you look at traffic managment. I hope you are listening NCC. I work in the city and have seen many roads close to cars which just moves the traffic to other roads which isn't really traffic management is it. I couldn't afford to use a bus to work each day as it's to expensive compared to my car. I have to suffer the traffic congestion caused by the council who are supposed to be providing services for me. So I pay out in may different ways but get little in return whilst I see those who pay nothing get all they wish for. Better bus management is an area which would free up the roads, buses using bus stops as bus standing point and busses which park at a stop with the back of the bus in the road stops traffic flow. There are so many cheap and easy ways to free up the roads in this city, but the council will never do any of them. and we will ALL suffer for that.

    Report this comment

    parkeg1

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • Excellent idea,then buses etc

    Report this comment

    foxey

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • Absurd, this will just move the problem onto other roads in the city, it wont solve anything. Yet another waste of money from our local council who just want to be "seen" to be taking action !

    Report this comment

    Crazy

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • How can it be a genuine consultation when they are already writing the traffic orders? They are preparing to legally close these roads to traffic before they have even sought the views of the general public. The only people who have had their views taken are the bus companies. It was a no brainer what they were going to say.

    Report this comment

    DT

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • If cars and the like are banned from St Stephens. and it is going to be pedestrianised, shouldn't the council consider putting a roof on it, and renaming it St Stephens Bus Station. The Surrey Street Bus station could then be sold off to Asda or Tesco and visitors will flock in.

    Report this comment

    Stew Pydsodd

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Now everything will be going down Westlegate, which will add even more congestion to the City Centre. Well done NCC.

    Report this comment

    turnover

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • chebram71. We could just put up a sign which would be much cheaper.

    Report this comment

    parkeg1

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • This will be as big a disaster for the city as the pedestrianisation of Gentlemans Walk. It will lead to wholesale enjoyment. The next thing you know the council will ban whingers. And I want to know how will car drivers access all the car parks off St Stephens and Westlegate? Oh hang on, there arent any.

    Report this comment

    Fred

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • I glad I don't shop in city , i can get everything i need online delvered and failing that there always out of town shopping areas with no charge for parking. Who needs the unreliable and expensive buses. Take away the free bus passes for the old and disabled who use them anyway. Yet more shops going to the wall, who needs them as they cannot compete with online prices. Thank you county council for your forward thinking, I like it!.

    Report this comment

    Cepnch

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • Another reason to buy everything I need on amazon. I don't think this proposal has been thought through. If you stop cars travelling freely, people don't stop using their cars. They find somewhere else to go. Still, I suppose the one or two people on the buses will be happy.

    Report this comment

    dan

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • Frank Young - Yes I know the cost of road tax is determind by pollutants, I'm sorry I can't afford a newer car with 0% ommissions. Unfortunately I work, pay a mortgage and support a child singlehandedly - without benefits - so a car is a car I'm afraid. The only people welcoming this will be cyclists and bus users. Drivers are never considered - the wait for duelling of the Acle Straight remainder of the A11 and the NDR confirms that. People like me cannot stop using their cars, buses aren't reliable enough to get me to work on time and they're too expensive! I work right in the city centre and this is going to be a nightmare. And now they're going to narrow part of Grapes Hill so buses have their own lane and can sail along unhindered. Brilliant.

    Report this comment

    Lesa

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • i agree with a previous poster--take away free bus passes from the pensioners.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • Congestion at peak times is bad enough as it is, forcing more and more cars onto fewer roads and restricting lanes will only make things worse.

    Report this comment

    robert

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • I sometimes use the (over priced) park and ride system, even though they have now shut all the customer service hatches and toilets! But when I am walking across St Stephens St cars always pause to let me cross in front of them, however the arrogant bus drivers NEVER let anyone cross and would run us over if they could - best sort out their attitude first NCC!

    Report this comment

    outspoken

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • why not use the park and ride to come in to the city some people wood take there car to bed with them if the can

    Report this comment

    patrick feeney

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • bus fares down to match prices "up North"--now that would be a headline.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • instead of making more changes they should sort out the messes already created? the pointless traffic lights on grapes hill roundabout... thickthorn is awful if you are trying to get out of the city in the morning! the junction at the top of prince of wales which was supposed to have been sorted but in the end a bus lane was just put through the middle! the new one way system around St Augustines which is screwed up by the traffic light sequence that causes more traffic jams which this was supposed to have stopped!! I could go on!!

    Report this comment

    sr44

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • This is a very good proposal - the alternative routes are viable. There might be some hold-ups at certain times but drivers are not fools - they usually find better ways to get around and alter their journey times to suit the conditions. Westlegate hardly "gets clogged up with traffic"; vehicles can usually get through in a maximum of two phases of the signals. I think the Queens Road exit from the St Stephens roundabout will need looking at because the pedestrian signals are too close to the major road junction and cause tailbacks across the roundabout holding up buses. Bring it on!

    Report this comment

    JCW

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • Install automatic raisinglowering bollards which operate at certain times, allowing buses and taxis and emergency vehicle access 247 but allow everyday traffic between 9pm-7am weekdays and Saturday and all day Sunday.

    Report this comment

    chebram71

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • LESA sums it all up--cars pay road tax and cyclists do not. cars should go where they like.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • Ok, so I like to drive to the city for an hours shopping. There is a purpose built bus station, so why have 'they' ruined castle meadow by turning it in to a bus station, and the same applies to St Stephens, buses should be banned from these streets and use the bus station, and also the area around the train station, this is where one would expect to find 'public' transport. Small buses could run from other areas, to transport passengers to the main departure places. Buses will not be exempt from the grid lock that will result in these plans.

    Report this comment

    brooksie

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • Wonderful news, this is a very good step in the right direction and I'm sure once it has been implemented and its success becomes apparent then the scheme will be extended to other areas of the city. I still remember the good old days before cars took over and motorists started demanding wider roads and more parking spaces - a move that ruined our city centres with endless queues of cars full of drivers sitting there with their engines ticking over (as can be seen from the pictures accompanying the article).

    Report this comment

    expat

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • St Stephen's Street, Red Lion Street and Castle Meadow should all be buses and cycles only.Other vehicles approaching from St Stephen's Road can turn left or right and use the Inner Ring Road.

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    Jas44

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • You will never eliminate traffic from the city centre, until buses are cheaper, people will continue to use their cars. I'm sick of paying £300 road tax a year and being told where I can and can't drive whilst cyclists - who pay NOTHING in tax or insurance get cycle lanes and will be allowed to use the massive bus lane that will be St Stephens.Consulation, just a formality, they've already made their minds up.

    Report this comment

    Lesa

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • if cars pay so much road tax why are they treated like this? cyclists get it so jammy. buses are too expensive compared to other counties.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • i have never been consulted on a thing--from anyone. they already know what they will do.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • LESA sums it all up--cars pay road tax and cyclists do not. cars should go where they like.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • Here we go again..... car tax is based on the amount of pollutant your vehicle kicks out, it is not a "have a right to drive where I Iike" fee, there are cars out there which pay no tax due to their lack of emmisions but still cause traffic jams and "get in my way" too. If you don't like what you have to pay, the answer seems obvious. Insurance is a different matter and would be beneficial to both a rider in an accident and other road users. There are already a number of insurance and legal firms who deal specifically with and for cyclists though the emphasis seems to be more on no win, no fee cases. Indeed, the circumstances where a beleagured car driver could claim against a cycle for injury or damage seems few and far between. It all seems almost as pointless as asking pedestrians to pay tax and insurance because they congest the pathways and roads and don't always look both ways before crossing a road..

    Report this comment

    frank young

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • About time . The people of Costessey have just lost their bus stop in St Stephens , perhaps that can be reinstated . We have a long walk across busy roads to get to and from the bus station , makes it difficult to make connections .

    Report this comment

    dragonfly

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • What a absolutely ridiculous proposal! Banning cars from st Stephen's and forcing them down westlegate will cause utter chaos. Westlegate gets clogged up now with traffic, sending another 3000 cars down there along with forcing everyone to turn right instead of some going across and up rampant horse street is complete madness!

    Report this comment

    Whatyoutalkinaboutwillis!

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • Presently it's the cars that slow the excessive speed of the buses down in St Stephens! Do I hear more money being spent on Consultants=££££'s of wasted taxpayers money.

    Report this comment

    Marigold

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • Bookworm ( aka " i have not done much posting lately " Norton ). Give it a rest.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • has the council ever looked at the vast number of buss's on our city streets ?? they are near empty !! so lets shut roads so empty bus's can trundle around a bit easier . what a ridiculous idea . so what happens when tesco's have there lorry parked on westlegate with all this new diverted traffic ? do they know how much traffic already goes to aviva in the mornings ? course not , its just another money wasting scheme that sounds green but is a joke .

    Report this comment

    adinorwich

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • What ridiculous proposals! Do these councillors really think that this will deter people from driving to the city? As it won't. Reason being that buses either don't run regularly where some people live, or because they are too expensive and even with the price of petrol it is more economical to drive. Closing these roads will simply push traffic onto already congested nearby roads. I regularly cut from Westlegate across and down past the Theatre Royal. Instead i will be stuck trying to get down an already standstill Queens Road. There is no logic to this as these beloved buses, which simply exist to earn a fortune for their shareholders, and which don't run a route if it isn't commercially viable, will just end up stuck in this increased traffic. Leave the roads as they are.

    Report this comment

    DT

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • Just for the uneducated andor ignorant......the majority of the raised areas along St Stephens are not pedestrian crossings - they have no black and white stripes (zebra crossing) nor are they traffic light controlled (pelicantoucan). They are merely there to allow disabled pedestrians to cross without having to negotiate kerbs and do not give pedestrians any right of way.

    Report this comment

    rodders

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

  • LESA sums it all up--cars pay road tax and cyclists do not. cars should go where they like.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • The council does what it likes,as usual, defying logic when it comes to traffic management! Buying goods on the internet has never been easier and the increase in empty shops that is already happening will accelerate as councils continue their crackpot traffic schemes! Good luck shopping in Norwich with extortionate parking charges and council planned traffic jams I'll keep shopping on the net!

    Report this comment

    Harry Rabinowitz

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • I nominate Rodders for local Councillor. Great idea!

    Report this comment

    Lesa

    Friday, September 28, 2012

  • Well said!

    Report this comment

    Lesa

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • Stopping going straight at Westlegate also makes life difficult for those from that side of the city wanting to drop someone at the theatre. Have the Theatre Royal been asked their opinion? It sounds like a scheme using public money to benefit only private sector bus companies. Bremner should be ashamed.

    Report this comment

    DT

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • And why are they progressing the traffic orders whilst launching the consultation!? Surely they should wait to hear what the public have to say? Clearly a done deal.

    Report this comment

    DT

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • It's about time the city council bit the bullet and pedestrianised the city, it going to have to come in the future, so why not do it now?

    Report this comment

    Old Long Balls

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • How will it be ANY better for pedestrians? If buses, taxis bicycles and emergency vehicles can still use the road, then it's NOT pedestrianised, is it? Norwich is SO anti car these days, that I hardly ever visit. If I have to, I use my motorbike, which is a MUCH more environmentally friendly form of traffic than ANY bus or car. I don't get stuck in traffic and I DO NOT cause ANY congestion, unlike cars and buses. I can also park for free...

    Report this comment

    Lord Elf

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • The ring and loop system developed for Norwich during the 1950 60's has not worked. The free for all bus parking is a disaster and future pollution readings, solely from buses then, will show that old buses need replacing with more fuel efficient low emission buses. Some of the hysteria here is hilarious.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • It's about time the city council bit the bullet and pedestrianised the city, it going to have to come in the future, so why not do it now?

    Report this comment

    Old Long Balls

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • And why are they progressing the traffic orders whilst launching the consultation!? Surely they should wait to hear what the public have to say? Clearly a done deal.

    Report this comment

    DT

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • A step in the right direction. Hopefully this will make the city a more pleasent place to shop. Those people who do not need to take their car into the city will avoid the city like this. I avoid bringing my car in unless it has a purpose. I agree that the cost of the bus is abhorrent. Many times I have said that buses should compete with the cost of driving at HMRC approved company mileage rates plus half a day's parking. Bringing the family in is far too expensive on that basis. It might be hard for shops in Norwich but they are maintaining a business in this dire economy. There are two independent shops I visit one because I have put off visiting the other. Each time I visit the one I am treated to a tale of woe verging on suicide at the other I get a similar story but with a stoic gratitude that there is still a business to run.

    Report this comment

    George Ezekial

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • A great idea, I'm sure once its success is established then the scheme will be extended to the rest of the city. Its good to see things reverting how they used to be before cars took over and ruined our city centres with ever increasing demands for road widening and car parking.

    Report this comment

    expat

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

  • Bert Bremner thinks the city is thriving does he? Try talking to most of the independent traders who will all tell you a different story pal. Just shows how much these councillors really know!

    Report this comment

    IT Man

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • this anti car charade is becoming dangerous now......it was just a liberal joke at first.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • Congestion at peak times is bad enough as it is, forcing more and more cars onto fewer roads and restricting lanes will only make things worse.

    Report this comment

    robert

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

  • Rant over,( and back to the subject). Surely a better solution would be to allow traffic down Theatre St (with only buses turning left onto Red Lion St), reverse the traffic flow on Westlegate with one lane on Golden Ball St allowing access to Farmers Ave car park and Cattlemarket St ?

    Report this comment

    rodders

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

  • I avoid St Stephens like the plague when in my car. It is chockful of buses and coaches. And when I'm catching a bus I am jolly thankful that people like me do avoid it! As for the traffic going to Aviva Adinorwich I shouldn't worry about that too much. 800 thrown onto the scrap heap this week in the latest round of redundancies and that wont be the last.

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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