'Key moment' for town centre as £800,000 improvements agreed

The thoroughfare, Harleston. Picture: Ian Carstairs

The thoroughfare, Harleston. Picture: Ian Carstairs - Credit: Ian Carstairs

A £776,000 scheme to reduce traffic and boost shopping in a market town has received a significant uplift. 

South Norfolk Council (SNC) has agreed to increase the amount of funding it will put towards improving Harleston's town centre by £250,000, through a project which aims to reduce through traffic, improve the area for shoppers and provide places for people to relax.  

SNC's cabinet heard on Monday morning that the project is expected to cost more than they had anticipated.

But Lisa Neal, cabinet member for stronger economy, said SNC needed to invest in infrastructure in the town.

"When we looked at the plans that the county highways authority drew up they were slightly more expensive than we'd envisaged originally," she said.

"But, we want to go for the gold standard so we could get everything that we wanted." 

Trowse councillor Lisa Neal.

Trowse councillor Lisa Neal. - Credit: South Norfolk Council

Addressing concerns raised in a consultation for the project over lost parking in the town centre, council leader John Fuller said the scheme would not see places lost but instead they would be moved from the marketplace.  

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Ian Casters, a Harleston resident, told the cabinet the scheme could be a "really key moment in the long-term history of Harleston". 

Adding: "The decision you are about to take will set a scene for a wonderful future if people grasp that and make the most of it." 

The cabinet unanimously agreed to support the funding. 

After the vote, Mr Fuller said: "It's Harleston's turn. 

"There will be some housing growth coming in Harleton and people want to see the infrastructure upfront, not after the fact. 

"It's a good example of us taking a proactive approach." 

john fuller

John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council. - Credit: Archant

The funding for the project is split between SNC, Norfolk County Council (NCC) and Harleston Town Council (HTC).

NCC will fund £144,275, HTC £30,000 and SNC £678,527 - and the total sum includes room for overspend.

The SNC funding will come from the Norfolk Strategic Fund - a county council administered grant scheme - totalling £428,527, and £250,000 from the business rates pool. 

The work is expected to take around 12 weeks and will start in January 2022. 

What is in the plans?

  • Resurfacing the main carriageway along The Thoroughfare from the London Road/Church Street junction to Bullock Fair Close with differently coloured material.  

  • Widening and repaving of the northern footways along The Thoroughfare from the Church Street junction to the Bullock Fair Close junction.  

  • Conversion of the existing parking bays along The Thoroughfare to “parking pads” which can function as widened footways when empty.  

  • Reconfiguration of parking along Broad Street, along with the installation of an informal crossing point.  

  • Removing the parking bays on the Market Place and turning it into a "multiuse market and recreational area".

  • Stopping traffic from turning left into Bullock Fair Close and keeping the rear car park access.

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