Campaigners against proposals to change the road layout in Norwich city centre come together to protest on Chapel Field North.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Norwich traffic campaigners call for public to have say on Chapel Field Road

Saturday, February 2, 2013
8.28 AM

Campaigners against part of a plan which would change the way traffic uses Norwich city centre have invited more people to join them in devising an alternative scheme.

Council transport bosses have come up with a scheme they say will ease congestion in the centre of Norwich, which includes making Chapel Field North two-way and preventing general traffic from using St Stephens Street and part of Surrey Street.

Officers say that will improve journey times, reliability and punctuality for buses, while making life easier for pedestrians in places such as Rampant Horse Street.

But protesters collected a petition signed by 1,501 people and outlined their concerns at a meeting of the Norwich Highways Agency Committee, made up of city and county councillors, last week.

The campaigners said they felt there had not been proper public consultation, figures used to justify the scheme were inaccurate and alternative plans they had put forward had not been properly considered.

And the members of the committee agreed to put a decision on the scheme on hold until March, so further consultation can take place and further work can be done on the facts and figures surrounding the proposals.

Peter Jackson, from Chapel Field North, who said: “By deferring the decision the members of the highways committee have also given local residents additional time in which to make their views of the proposals known and to suggest alternatives.

“We believe that this extra time can allow greater involvement for everyone who uses the city centre, buses and cars, in addition to those who live in the areas most affected.

“We have set up an email address - NorwichBuses.Have.your.say@gmail.com - to allow anyone to communicate their views.

“We look forward to receiving comments and ideas to assist in the development of an alternative plan which safeguards the city conservation area while improving access to the centre.”

At a meeting of the city council this week, Bert Bremner, vice-chairman of the committee and cabinet member for planning and transport, was asked to explain the rationale behind the proposals.

He said of the proposal to allow buses to go into the city along Chapel Field North: “The traffic modelling shows that this will save an average of two minutes on bus journey times between Grapes Hill and the bus stops in the city centre and at the times when the city is at its busiest these savings will be significantly more.”

But he acknowledged the deferment of the decision would give time to “consider the concerns and issues that have been raised”.