Call for action over queues at Norwich’s Chapelfield shopping centre

Chapel Field Road is clogged with cars, with police stopping traffic from joining the queue to get i

Chapel Field Road is clogged with cars, with police stopping traffic from joining the queue to get into Chapelfield Shopping Centre. Pic: Archant. - Credit: Archant

Calls have been made for action to be taken over queues which build up outside the Chapelfield Shopping Centre - but council leaders concede there is 'no affordable, effective solution'.

Green Party Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Martin Schmierer. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Green Party Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Martin Schmierer. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

There have long been concerns that, on busy days, shoppers looking to turn into the centre from Chapel Field Road, tailback along the ring road and councillors this week called for more to be done to tackle it.

Martin Schmierer, leader of the Green group at Norwich City Council said: 'Throughout December, there were regular delays on the inner ring road, especially around the Grapes Hill roundabout, especially due to an increase in the number of vehicles coming into Norwich in the build-up to Christmas.

'However, many of these traffic jams seemed to be caused or at least exacerbated by drivers using the inner ring road to queue while waiting to access the Chapelfield car park.'

He said a sign urging drivers not to queue on the ring road was often ignored.

Life before Chapelfield, an aerial view of the Nestle chocolate factory site which once stood where

Life before Chapelfield, an aerial view of the Nestle chocolate factory site which once stood where the shopping centre has been built. The last of 900 workers left their jobs in the autumn of 1996 as the factory closed. Photo by Keith Whitmore. - Credit: Archant


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Mike Stonard, Labour's cabinet member for sustainable and inclusive growth, agreed resolving the problems with the Chapelfield queue would 'go a long way' to tackle problems on the ring road.

'However, the city council, working with Norfolk County Council, have explored all options for managing the problems caused by this queue but there is no affordable, effective solution to be had,' he said.

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He said Chapelfield's owners intu had, unlike The Forum and John Lewis, declined to provide traffic marshals at Christmas and legally, the council could not force them to.

He added police had the power to direct traffic, but it was a 'low priority' for them in tough financial times.

Aerial picture from 2005 when work to build the Chapelfield shopping centre was taking place. Pictur

Aerial picture from 2005 when work to build the Chapelfield shopping centre was taking place. Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Mike Page

Paul McCarthy, general manager of intu Chapelfield, said they had employed traffic marshals in the past. But he said: 'In our opinion, the marshals did not reduce the build-up of traffic. In fact, there were many reports that people refusing to move on when asked to do so actually caused more congestion.

'Reducing traffic congestion is a complex issue and we don't believe the solution is as simple as employing more traffic marshals.'

He said the shopping centre had taken other steps, such as employing extra car park staff and promoting park and ride online and in the centre's Christmas gift guide.

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