Tweaks to Norwich traffic lights could mean controversial Newmarket Road proposals are ditched

The Newmarket Road junction with Leopold Road, which council officers were contemplating closing. Pi

The Newmarket Road junction with Leopold Road, which council officers were contemplating closing. Pic: Denise Bradley. - Credit: Archant © 2011

A controversial move, which would see the closure of part of a Norwich road and the removal of a set of city traffic lights, may be permanently ditched.

Labour city councillor Mike Stonard. Pic: Sid Frisby.

Labour city councillor Mike Stonard. Pic: Sid Frisby. - Credit: Sid Frisby

Council bosses have long wanted to make changes to the Newmarket Road/Daniels Road roundabout, with £1.65m allocated for a project.

During traffic modelling, council officers found one of the main causes of congestion was queuing back from nearby junctions.

So, they wanted to get rid of the traffic lights at the junction with Lime Tree Road and to close the junction where Newmarket Road meets Leopold Road.

However, both those proposals met considerable opposition, with people living in Lime Tree Road saying removal would be 'stupid and dangerous'.

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And, in March last year, the proposals were pulled from the meeting where the Norwich highways agency committee had been due to make decisions.

Next week, that same committee will be asked not to go ahead with the changes for now, with council officers waiting to find out if a bid for Department for Transport cash to study the whole route between Norwich and Wymondham has been successful.

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Instead, they will carry out a trial which will tweak traffic signal timings at junctions on the A11 and A140, including as far afield as Colman Road and Mile End Road.

That will establish if the queues can be eased without the need to get rid of the lights or to close the Leopold Road junction.

Labour councillor Mike Stonard, vice-chair of Norwich highways agency committee and Norwich City Council cabinet member for highways, said the feeling from the community had helped to change the approach.

He said: 'Our priority was always to listen to local people and ensure their safety concerns were paramount in any decision making.

'The local Labour team worked really hard to get these proposals turned around and this shows how strong local campaigning by Labour delivers results for local people.'

Liberal Democrat councillors in Eaton had also highlighted their concerns over the impact of the Leopold Road junction closure.

The Norwich highways agency committee, made up of city and county councillors, will meet on Thursday to make a decision.

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