Framework to ease Norwich out of lockdown revealed
PUBLISHED: 08:31 16 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:56 16 May 2020
Plans for how we can get shoppers back into Norwich city centre are under way – but officials have warned our fine city is set to look very different.
A framework to begin easing Norwich out of lockdown has been released this week, with plans in motion to execute changes as soon as it is safe to do so.
Ideas currently being floated include temporary pedestrianisation of some roads, and managing routes with heavy footfall differently.
The framework has been drawn up by the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) and aims to create an overarching strategy for businesses and stakeholders so the public can move about safely when the government eases lockdown measures further.
The framework has been broken down into four stages: Crisis, pre-recovery, recovery and transformation.
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Business and policy leaders from across the retail, transport, leisure, commercial and public sectors have been asked to join the BID in formulating the plan moving forwards.
Stefan Gurney, chief executive of the BID, said: “We’re asking businesses to help us answer five questions. Where are we now, where could the scenario take us, what is our preferred future and what moves can we make so we are robust against different scenarios. We’re also asking to help identify trigger points – for example if the government announced they wanted everyone to go back to work in June, or wanted a certain number of businesses to reopen.
“When we have the answers and the information for these questions we can start getting plans in place as soon as if safe to do so. We’ll be looking at things like road flow, how transport hubs move footfall into the city and so on. But it all needs to work together - it needs to be cohesive so that people coming into, and moving around, the city know what they’re doing.”
Given the provisional plan outlined by prime minister Boris Johnson, Mr Gurney is keen to be ready by June.
“We’ll start making practical changes as soon as we have the information and it is safe to do so,” he said.
Mr Gurney said this could include the potential pedestrianisation of some roads and monitoring footfall flow from transport hubs through the city.
He added that the strategy broadly aligned with the outlines set out by the British Retail Consortium, which includes social distancing and closing spaces like changing rooms.
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“Now could be the chance to trial some things we may want to change in the city overall,” he said. “Perhaps if one strategy goes well we could put it in place permanently.”
The announcement was welcomed by large and small businesses.
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Jonty Young, spokesman for the Norwich Lanes, said: “We have such a mix of businesses that there’s no one solution. What is rare that we’re being asked what should be done instead of told – in many towns and cities that consideration is not taken.
“There will be discrepancies between what the big businesses can do and the independents, but what we need to remember is that independents are run by people who have put everything on the line for the business, and chains have hedge fund managers backing them up.”
Robert Bradley, centre manager for the Castle Quarter, also backed the framework.
He said: “It’s important for there to be a strategy that everyone knows and can feed into. It’d make no sense for us to be doing on thing, the Lanes another and Chapelfield something else. Even before lockdown we were sharing information and data with the BID and likewise they were feeding it back to us.
“I would advise any business to get in touch with the BID and be involved in the building of this strategy.”
Across Norfolk other BIDs have also been preparing their strategies, with organisations like the King’s Lynn BID posting advice and updates online.
Johnathan Newman, who is the Great Yarmouth town centre and BID manager, said: “We are currently working on a framework alongside the local authority and other bodies. It’s a couple of weeks off publication but we are hoping to release it as soon as it’s ready.”
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