John Lewis boss - Norwich roadworks pain will be worth the wait for city centre

Norwich city roadworks. Westlegate closed to traffic. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich city roadworks. Westlegate closed to traffic. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The boss of John Lewis in Norwich has given his backing to the roadworks scheme gripping the city centre, arguing that the short-term pain is worth the long-term gain.

Richard Marks. Photo: Bill Smith

Richard Marks. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

Richard Marks said the department store had been keen for many years to create a stronger link with the rest of the city centre – a case which was becoming more pressing with developments on King Street and St Anne's Wharf.

The £3m Transport for Norwich improvements will see Westlegate closed to traffic permanently and Golden Ball Street made two-way, though the works have been criticised by nearby businesses, who say their trade has been hit.

But Mr Marks, head of branch at John Lewis Norwich, said: 'I feel it will join the city up. We want to make access across the city easier for shoppers, and this will improve access to car parks.

'It will help to put links across the main shopping areas of the city.

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'In any other city, the link between John Lewis and Marks and Spencer would be a thriving thoroughfare, so I think these works will really improve that link.'

Mr Marks was speaking at the opening of the new-look John Lewis café, which has been taken over by Café Benugo following a four-week refurbishment.

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He added that the refurbishment of Westlegate Tower, and plans for a new open space and student block at All Saints Green could ultimately attract more businesses into that part of the city.

'Norwich is a vibrant city centre, and units don't tend to stay empty for very long,' he said.

Phil Cutter, landlord of the Murderers pub in Timber Hill, last week blamed the roadworks for making the city 'a no-go zone' in the evenings. He filmed a YouTube video from the dashboard of his car, showing the difficulties the roadworks were causing motorists trying to reach his pub.

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