Cromer bus station to reopen

Cromer bus station will reopen by the summer after a battle to get the axed site back into action.

Work will start on a minor revamping this month and the station, which closed five years ago, will be operating again in June with improved shelters.

And there are plans to do a more thorough job, including knocking down the old tourist office, later in a second phase.

News of the reopening was given to the annual town meeting by Norfolk County Council infrastructure officer Peter Cudby who said the council had 'stuck to its guns' in pursuing its aim of restoring a bus interchange for the town.

It was necessary because of growing bus use and the need for safety which was difficult on roadside stops.

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The saga stretches back to 2006 when the owners of the Prince of Wales Road site, Ortona, shut it saying the main users did not want it any more.

They then tried to develop the plot for a shop and 12 flats, but the move was turned down by planners – and twice on appeal – amid pressure from locals to keep the station running.

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The matter even reached the High Court after Ortona felt the first appeal inspector's judgment could have suffered from 'unconscious bias' because of his former role as a planning policy officer for the county council. But a second appeal came to the same decision and rejected the plan.

Last year Ortona confirmed they had made an offer to lease the land to the county council having listened to the views of local people.

Mr Cudby confirmed the council had now secured a 99-year lease on the land for �250,000 and was paying another �40,000 for the interim improvements.

They would include:

new shelters to replace the derelict ones in the corner

new lighting

an electronic interactive kiosk with a touch-screen linked to bus information websites and with the ability to print out timetables

The aim was to open in June for Sanders and Norfolk Green buses to use it, said Mr Cudby.

The interim scheme would provide two stops for the moment, which would increase with the second phase. But even retaining the roadside one outside the cafe on Cadogan Road would ease congestion in the area.

He could not say how much the second phase would cost but was pleased the scheme had won funding in tough economic times, with council cuts being made to other transport areas such as park and ride.

Graham Plant, the county council's cabinet member for travel and transport, said: 'I am delighted that we will be able to return an appropriate off-street bus interchange to Cromer.

'We have received much local concern in the past about the issues that were posed by having to have residents and visitors use one town centre, on-street, bus stop.

'Local people will know that we've had an ongoing desire to resolve these concerns for the best of the town and we have been through legal challenges in order to acquire the land for a public transport usage.

'As has been well documented, the county council is having to find significant savings in order to adapt to a large cutback in funding, but with the funds available to us we have finalised a design and will begin work soon on the land of the former bus station to provide bus stops plus seating and shelter for those waiting, passenger information and timetables.

"We hope to be finished by June."

Long time campaigner to resurrect the bus station Canon Derek Elton said: 'It is good to know work will start in a few weeks, after years of looking at the site thinking nothing was happening.'

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