Norwich drivers face months of disruption when city centre work starts

St Stephens Street in Norwich.Photo by Simon Finlay.

St Stephens Street in Norwich.Photo by Simon Finlay. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Drivers in Norwich are set for a summer of disruption, with work on a major city centre traffic shake-up set to start in less than a month.

Through the £1.7m Transport for Norwich scheme, cars will be banned from St Stephens Street and part of Surrey Street, while controversial changes to Chapel Field North will see that road made two-way.

Following that, general traffic would be banned from going into Rampant Horse Street and stopped from going from Westlegate into Rampant Horse Street.

A bus lane is also being put in Grapes Hill as part of the project, which council bosses say will cut congestion and improve bus reliability.

It has been confirmed that work on Chapel Field North is due to start on Monday, July 7, which will continue for at least three months and possibly longer.

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The work, from the Cleveland Road junction to Chapel Field East, will see the pathway by the side of Chapelfield Gardens removed to widen the road so traffic can travel both ways. Traffic will have to be diverted.

Vehicles from Westlegate which currently travel up past the park will have to loop around Red Lion Street, Golden Ball Street, All Saints Green, Queens Road and Chapel Field Road to get to the Grapes Hill roundabout.

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Vehicles from Little Bethel Street, which currently turn right into Chapel Field North will instead have to use Theatre Street and Rampant Horse Street to get onto the same diversion route.

And traffic from Red Lion Street, which currently turn right into Theatre Street will have to head up St Stephens Street instead.

Fred Agombar, who runs the Olde Norwich sightseeing tours, predicted that would lead to 'absolute chaos'. He presented a petition to the Norwich highways agency committee yesterday.

He criticised the council for doing the work 'at the busiest time of the year in the tourist industry'.

But Bruce Bentley, principal transportation planner at Norwich City Council said the summer months were when traffic levels were at their lowest.

He said: 'The scheme has been extensively tested and will provide significant benefits, particularly for public transport users, walkers and cyclists who are trying to access the city centre.'

The committee also agreed that, once the changes are introduced, cameras can be installed to catch drivers who flout the bans on where traffic can go.

Initially, drivers would get advisory warnings, but after a period of grace while drivers get used to the changes, they could face fines of up to £90.

• What do you think of the changes? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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