Concern £500,000 road-widening scheme could be hit by city park charges

South Park Avenue in Norwich

South Park Avenue in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

Buses on a busy Norwich street will no longer have to slow or stop when crossing each other, under a £500,000 road-widening plan. 

Plans for widening the carriageway on South Park Avenue, next to Eaton Park, were heard by members of Norfolk County Council’s transforming cities committee on Wednesday. 

Wider roads will allow two buses to pass each other without stopping, while the replacement of a pedestrian island with a zebra crossing aims to improve road safety.  

The £467,074 plans will be funded as part of the Department for Transport's Transforming Cities Fund, which saw £32m awarded to the city for its roads network

While the consultation received broadly positive support, with 50.8pc of responders saying they like or very much like plans to widen the carriageway, concerns have been raised by various groups, including councillors and a nearby school. 

Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton. Pic: Liberal Democrats.

Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton. Pic: Liberal Democrats. - Credit: Liberal Democrats

The Colman Federation, which runs the nearby Colman junior and infant schools, said the scheme works against their active transport principles and smaller footpaths make it more difficult for children and carers to use. 

However, the council responded there will be no changes to the existing footpath, instead, the verge will be narrowed. 

Brian Watkins said he supported many of the measures but raised concerns about how the city council’s plans to introduce car parking charges at Eaton Park could impact the road. 

“What I can’t overstate is the worries people have about the introduction of parking charges at Eaton park,” he said. 

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“There’s already a problem at the moment when motorists can’t find a space, human nature being what it is, they look for the nearest available space, which is usually on South Park avenue or adjoining roads.” 

Mr Watkins called for double yellow lines and waiting restriction to avoid impacting the community. 

City councillor Mike Stonard, tried to allay Mr Watkins' fears, saying the councils would work together to address any impact from parking fees. 

Norwich city councillor Mike Stonard. Pic: Archant.

Norwich city councillor Mike Stonard. Pic: Archant. - Credit: Archant

“We understand that there could be a knock-on effect and we want to work to mitigate that,” Mr Stonard said. 

“I think there is an assumption that people will automatically be displaced because they don’t want to pay the parking charges.  

“But actually, we find very often people are creatures of habit and go to where they normally go to the park, and if they have to pay, they will.”  

The proposal passed with Mr Watkins abstaining.