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New retail park labelled 'an accident waiting to happen'

PUBLISHED: 14:56 07 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:50 08 August 2019

Councillors and local residents meet at the Gateway Retail Park, on Tower Road, in Lowestoft. PHOTO: Mick Howes

Councillors and local residents meet at the Gateway Retail Park, on Tower Road, in Lowestoft. PHOTO: Mick Howes

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A town's new retail park which officially opened last month has been labelled "an accident waiting to happen" as drivers navigate heavy traffic and poor visibility.

Traffic choas on Tower Road at the junction of Cooke Road and the entrance for the Gateway Retail Park. PHOTO: Mick HowesTraffic choas on Tower Road at the junction of Cooke Road and the entrance for the Gateway Retail Park. PHOTO: Mick Howes

The Gateway Retail Park, on Tower Road, Lowestoft, has proved popular since the first store opened, but drivers have faced difficulties entering and leaving the site.

With the main entrance on Tower Road almost immediately opposite the junction for Cooke Road, drivers also have to navigate traffic heading along Tower Road.

For drivers leaving the site, a totem advertising the retail park's shops blocks the view of oncoming traffic.

Suffolk County Councillor Melanie Vigo di Gallidoro, who represents Pakefield, said: "The junction is really inadequate for the amount of traffic coming in and out of the retail park.

Traffic choas at the Gateway Retail Park junction on Tower Road, opposite Cooke Road. PHOTO: Mick HowesTraffic choas at the Gateway Retail Park junction on Tower Road, opposite Cooke Road. PHOTO: Mick Howes

"The totem has been put in the wrong place because it is blocking the view of the oncoming traffic for drivers turning right and there are near-misses constantly.

"I have had calls from residents about being boxed in by traffic, or trying to walk across the road. It is terrible, especially if you are elderly.

"From the county council's point of view, the planning proposal that was passed was supposed to obey the highway regulations to have the totem six metres from the road, but I don't think it is more than two metres and it is blocking the view.

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"It is a joy to have shops like Aldi and the Range and all the facilities here, and we wish them well, but it has to be safe."

The Range, Greggs and Costa were among the stores to open their doors already, while Aldi will open on Thursday, August 8.

Fellow county councillor Michael Ladd echoed the warning. He said: "It is more dangerous than was envisaged and something needs to be rectified or there will be a serious accident in the near future.

"There was concern about traffic at the planning stage and we need to find a compromise."

Plans for the demolition of the Zephyr Cams site and the construction of the retail park were submitted to Waveney District Council in 2015, with concerns voiced at the time about the increased traffic and the potential impact on Lowestoft town centre.

East Suffolk Councillor Jenny Ceresa, who serves as vice-chairman on the northern planning committee, said: "We asked for a roundabout at the planning stage but it wasn't thought to be a problem.

"We had a derelict site that has now been brought back into use and the amount of people using it is terrific."

When approached, project managers TPS did not comment on the traffic issues.

Director David White said: "As far as we're aware, the totem was installed in the correct location in relation to the highway for which the design was developed in consultation with Suffolk County Council's Highways department."

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