September 2 2014 Latest news:
Monday, April 21, 2014
Recent road closures during gas repair works in Dereham have prompted a debate over whether the town’s historic heart should be made permanently traffic-free.
During National Grid’s six-week project, one lane of the main road through the Market Place was closed – generating conflicting opinions from people who live and work in the area.
Some shops and businesses reported a “devastated” impact on their takings, while other townspeople suggested the temporary single-lane layout actually improved the traffic flow and made the Market Place more “people friendly”.
Some are arguing for part-pedestrianisation, with a permanent one-way system, creating more room for buses entering northwards from High Street.
Others believe the whole area could be pedestrianised – creating an airy public space equivalent to European towns and cities, where the cafe culture draws tourists and locals to paved squares and courtyards.
But if that was ever to happen, what cost would there be to the Market Place businesses and stallholders who rely on passing trade? Would it drive people away to out-of-town shops and eateries?
How about the shoppers? Would you appreciate a safer, less noisy environment that was better suited to those on foot and on public transport? Or do you value the ability to nip in with your car and park outside those central shops?
And what about all the road users? Would any change to traffic flow make it difficult to get across town for business meetings or school runs?
At present, we are not aware of any formal plans to explore any of these options but we want to know what everyone thinks – should Dereham’s Market Place be pedestrianised, reduced to one-way traffic, or simply left as it is?
You can register your thoughts with our poll, and you can add your opinions as comments to this story too. Once we’ve collated a good cross-section of views we’ll publish the results in print.