City pedestrian link hinges on TV vote

A national television vote will decide whether Norwich receives almost £1million to improve links at one of the city's hidden gems. Plans for long-awaited links between Whitlingham and Thorpe St Andrew via the city centre hinge on a TV vote when viewers will be asked to decide which of six schemes should receive £50million funding as part of the Big Lottery Fund's Living Landmarks: The People's Millions national appeal.

A national television vote will decide whether Norwich receives almost £1million to improve links at one of the city's hidden gems.

Plans for long-awaited links between Whitlingham and Thorpe St Andrew via the city centre hinge on a TV vote when viewers will be asked to decide which of six schemes should receive £50million funding as part of the Big Lottery Fund's Living Landmarks: The People's Millions national appeal.

One is the Connect2 project, launched by sustainable-transport charity, Sustrans, which has backed 79 travel-related projects across the UK. If chosen, it has pledged to hand over £900,000 to benefit Norwich.

The money would kick-start the proposed £5million link project, meaning its potential can begin to be realised including better footpaths, cafes and public areas.

The links would improve cycle and pedestrian access across the rivers Wensum and Yare and would bridge the gap to make it possible to walk and cycle directly from behind Carrow Road football ground to Whitlingham Country Park.

Matthew Williams, chairman of Norwich Rivers Heritage Group, said: “There's a real need for this because it would be a riverside path through most of the city.

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“It's a way of getting people out of their cars and I think there's a real appetite for this kind of thing. There's a lot of concern about child obesity which means we should be making the most of the area without going out in the car.”

From late November ITV1 will screen programmes after the ITV news, detailing the schemes bidding for the cash. The public would be invited to vote for their choice in a nationwide phone poll in early December.

Nigel Brigham, regional manager for the East at Sustrans, said: “This project is about really breaking down barriers and improved access to Whitlingham. If you get the infrastructure right people will change the way they travel. We wanted to show people it should be the preferred way to drive or cycle.”

Other contenders are the Eden Project's Dry Topics Biome, Somerset Waterlinks, the National Museum of Science & Industry Collections Centre, The Black Country as Urban Park and Sherwood Forest: The Living Legend.

If the phone-in bid is successful the remaining money would be sought from central government grants.

Final details of the exact route are still under discussion. However, it is likely either a lift or a swing bridge would be built from the city centre side to Whitlingham Country Park.

t Members of the public can register their support for the Whitlingham project, by visiting www.sustransconnect2.org.uk website or by texting 'Connect2' to 80010.

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