Fears have been raised over the potential impact of roadworks on Norwich businesses while the diggers move in for the £161m Thickthorn roundabout revamp.

Transport secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan gave the green light to the National Highways’ upgrade to the busy junction linking the A11 with the A47 on October 14.

Plans include a new slip road off the A11 northbound, which will take motorists beneath both roads before re-joining traffic on the A47 heading towards Great Yarmouth - eliminating the need to use the roundabout.

Eastern Daily Press: The plans for the changes at Thickthorn Roundabout.The plans for the changes at Thickthorn Roundabout. (Image: Highways England)

National Highways is hoping to complete the bulk of the work in nine days and wanted to start it early next year but that could be delayed because of an expected environmental legal challenge.

Drayton retail guru Eric Kirk, who advises retailers through his firm Your Fresh Eyes, believed the idea of an upgrade for "the problem area" was positive but was worried more roadworks would put off visitors.

He said: "The size of Norwich city centre compared to its population and average income means we have to maintain good links. If you want to kill the city you make it harder for people to visit."

Mr Kirk added the Thickthorn roadworks on top of construction work on the A11 would cause problems.

James Linder, who runs the Eagle pub in Newmarket Road, said: "The last thing Norwich needs right now is more roadworks."

David Bills, Conservative county councillor for the Humbleyard ward, said: "I was pleased we have a decision on Thickthorn. I am sure when it is completed it will provide a better filter for traffic and relieve pressure on the roundabout.

"We need better signage and more logical lane descriptions to ensure the safety of drivers.

"The timing of works will be interesting."

Chris Griffin, programme leader for National Highways in the East, said: "Our work will reduce congestion, improve journey times and make the road safer.

"Increasing road capacity and connecting communities across the east of England will pave the way for economic growth."

Casualty projections over the next 60 years suggest as many as 26 fatal or serious injury collisions could be prevented with 242 fewer accidents after the changes, according to National Highways.

It hopes to complete the revamp by early 2025.