Businesses concerned over seven months of roadworks in busy part of Norwich
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Business owners have voiced concerns over the impact of seven months of roadworks which are due to begin in Norwich next week.
The scheme is part of a project to create more pedestrian and cycle-friendly routes in the area.
Phase one of work in Tombland and Upper King Street will begin on Monday, August 10, running for more than three months until November 13.
The second phase will then commence, and are set to run through to an expected project completion date in March 2021.
Reasons for the work include improving bus journey times, increasing facilities and access for pedestrians and cyclists and bettering the overall look of the area.
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Planned changes to the area include resurfacing of roads and pavements on both streets.
In Tombland there will be changes to the layout of bus stops, including a new one relocated from Upper King Street and the existing concrete bus lay-by being removed and re-paved with a new loading, disabled and taxi bay created.
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There will also be further resurfacing where paving has cracked because of tree roots while phase one will also see preparation for the disused block of toilets to be demolished.
Upper King Street will see the pavement widened on the eastern side by around three quarters of a metre, while the pedestrian crossing will be widened and a new raised table constructed at the junction with Queen Street.
There will be road closures from August 10, including Tombland and Upper King Street to southbound traffic only and Princes Street at its junction with Tombland.
Meanwhile, Queen Street and Tombland will be closed at the St Ethelbert’s Gate Approach, with all parking suspended on both streets.
A signed diversion route will be put in place while the road closures are in effect.
The works have been brought about by Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council as pare of the Transport for Norwich strategy.
Central government’s Transforming Cities Fund has given £2.5million to the project, which builds on improvements already made to the area through investment from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund.
Businesses are worried about the affect the works will have on both themselves and their area – especially in the wake of months of trading difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Paul Brown, who has owned and run Hiz-Hair in Tombland for 36 years, said he didn’t understand why it had been decided that the works should go ahead now.
He said: “I don’t understand the timing of it – they could have done it in lockdown. Why didn’t they?
“With everything going on the city is already struggling with footfall and this will just make it worse.”
He also said that he “doesn’t see it bringing any benefit” to the area once the work is completed.
Philippa Clements, owner of nearby Tombland Bookshop, said she welcomes improvement projects, but is concerned over the expected loss of two trees which have stood there for decades.
She said she is particularly disappointed over what she perceives to be a lack of communication and consultation from the powers-that-be.
“We have written to all the councils and have heard nothing back. We just wanted a dialogue, not a full and frank declaration.
“The way the system works is, instead of being able to talk about things, we get told ‘this is what’s happening’ and to have our say we have to challenge it.
“We have all made sacrifices and, for the right project, it is worth it. There were opportunities to make it worth it, but it is not as good as it could be.
“There could be a good project which meets the Norwich Transport Plan’s aims and also benefits traders and the community, but only if there is enough talking. They haven’t consulted people very well.”
Milly J Shoes owner Emily Jupp said she was worried that the roadworks would be “very off-putting” for pedestrians and the dirt and dust from the works might come into her shop.
She did, however, believe that the project will be worth it in the long run due to the boost it would bring for tourism in the area.
““I think it’s going to be lovely once it’s all done. I think there will be a bit of a café culture around here like in Italy and Spain where people come to sit outside and enjoy themselves.
“Of course they have all the landmarks and of course the wonderful cathedral too, so it will be great for the tourism side of things. It will make it a destination that people will really want to come to which will be great for all the businesses around here.
“Once the seven months are over we can really start to enjoy this area.”