Multi-million pound road shake-ups for string of Norwich streets

A £4.8m scheme could speed up buses in St Stephens Street. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Concerns have been raised over a £6.1m shake-up for St Stephens Street. - Credit: Archant

Traffic shake-ups are planned for a string of streets in Norwich as the first significant steps are taken to spend millions of pounds of government cash.

Road changes, better bus lanes and new pedestrian and cycle crossings are all mooted in five schemes which will cost £9.4m of the £32m Transforming Cities cash awarded by the government.

Councillors on the Transforming Cities joint committee will decide on Thursday whether or not to push forward with the schemes.

These are the schemes which will come before councillors:

St Stephens Street

The biggest is a £6.1m shake-up for St Stephens Street, one of the main shopping areas in Norwich city centre.

An artist's impression of how St Stephens Street could look if a proposed revamp goes ahead. Pic: No

An artist's impression of how St Stephens Street could look if a proposed revamp goes ahead. Pic: Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Councillors agreed in September to put the project out for consultation. But on Thursday they will be told some elements need to be reconsidered.

Just under half who responded objected to the proposals, with 46pc supporting and 5pc not answering that question.

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The scheme includes changes to the section between the inner ring road up to Red Lion Street, also taking in Surrey Street and Rampant Horse Street.

In St Stephens Street, new sawtooth bus bays would be created, which council bosses say would make it easier for buses to pull away after picking up or dropping off passengers.

However, Norwich Cycling Campaign objected to the proposals, saying it would make the street a 'no-go area' for cyclists.

Richard Bearman, from Norwich Cycling Campaign. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Richard Bearman, from Norwich Cycling Campaign. - Credit: Archant

Campaign spokesman Richard Bearman said the bus bays would make it much harder for a bus driver to see approaching cyclists before pulling out.

A recurring concern raised was why so many buses use St Stephens Street for pick up and drop off, rather than the nearby bus station.

Officers said more work now needs to be done to consider the impact of the saw-tooth bays on cyclists and to liaise with bus operators to get the best balance between use of the bus station and St Stephens Street.

Cromer Road / Aylsham Road

The £1m scheme aims to speed up buses on roads which are used by about 180 buses inbound and 160 buses outbound each weekday.

Cromer Road in Norwich

Cromer Road in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

The proposals include two new sections of inbound bus lanes. One in Cromer Road, between Fifers Lane and Mayfield Avenue and the second in Aylsham Road, between Suckling Avenue and Woodcock Road.

Both proposed bus lanes would be shared with cyclists and will operate 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Council officers say it will cut bus journey times by 15-20pc, but other traffic would expect to see a 5pc to 10pc increase in their journey times in peak periods.

Councillors will be asked to put that scheme out for public consultation.

St Stephens Road

Council officers had been considering widening the pavement in St Stephens Road - a key route in and out of the city centre and one used by many City College Norwich students.

Pedestrian crossing in St Stephens Road in Norwich

The crossing where Grove Road meets St Stephens Road in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

Three options have been suggested which would widen the footpaths, with one of those options meaning the inbound bus lane would have to be removed.

And officers have concluded the benefits do not outweigh the disruption which would be caused during construction.

So they are recommending consultation on an £800,000 option which would widen the pedestrian crossing near Grove Road, while left turns from St Stephens Road into Grove Road would be banned.

King Street

This £1m scheme in the historic street, up for approval at Thursday's meeting, would widen the footpaths and narrow the carriageway.

King Street in Norwich

King Street in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

Officers had been looking at making the street one-way and putting in a cycle contraflow, but a number of concerns had been raised over that suggestion.

So they have scrapped that idea and focused on cutting vehicle speeds by narrowing the road and realigning the Rouen Road junction to further slow traffic.

South Park Avenue

This £467,000 project aims to make it easier for buses to get down the relatively narrow road near Eaton Park, while improving safety for pedestrians.

South Park Avenue in Norwich

South Park Avenue in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

The carriageway near the boating pond entrance to the park would be widened, to get round a problem where number 25 First buses have to wait to pass each other.

The traffic island outside the park entrance would be replaced with a pedestrian crossing.

Councillors will be asked to put that scheme out for consultation.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport. Pict

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways and transport. - Credit: Simon Parkin

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport and chairman of the joint committee, said the economy would be boosted through improved transport links.

He said: “Investment in our transport infrastructure is more important than ever as we move out of the pandemic and our Transforming Cities programme aims to boost the economy through improved sustainable transport and measures to increase levels of active travel.

“We have a range of proposals in various stages of development and are continuing to engage with stakeholders and members of the public as they take shape.

At next week’s joint committee, we’re seeking approval to consult on four schemes and, if approved, there will be the opportunity for all those interested to provide feedback and help finalise the details of proposals in the new year.”

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