Traffic congestion concerns raised over St Stephens Street overhaul

Traffic congestion concerns have today been raised about proposals to overhaul city centre streets to make them better for buses.

The Norwich Highways Agency Committee has backed a public consultation on plans to close St Stephens Road and Surrey Street, between All Saints Green and St Stephens Street, to general traffic.

Transport officials hope to only allow buses, taxis, private hire vehicles, bicycles and commercial vehicles in the two streets.

They also want to remove or relocate five of the seven disabled parking bays from St Stephens and Surrey Street, and have more signs directing people to the Chapelfield Shopmobility programme.

But councillors asked for further evidence to be shown about how much extra pressure these �330,000 government-funded changes will place on Westlegate and Chapel Field Road.

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Mike Stonard, city councillor for Catton Grove, asked how these proposals sat with the future aims to pedestrianise Westlegate.

Mervyn Scutter, Norwich Eaton county councillor, added he suspected the proposal will be 'contentious' but he believed it had a lot of merit.

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He told today's meeting: 'My concern really, or I would like more clarification, is what's expected to happen to the displaced traffic? In particular, what's the likely impact on Westlegate and the roundabout at Chapel Field? Both of them are pretty congested now. If there's going to be additional traffic there, I would like to know what are the proposals to do that.'

Council officers said a long-term plan for Norwich was already in place and further traffic numbers will be provided during the four-week consultation, expected to start in November. An estimated 3,000 of the 5,000 vehicles which use St Stephens Street every day are cars.

The consultation will also include a separate project to make Chapel Field North two-way. It is believed this will prevent buses getting stuck in traffic, enable coaches to travel to attractions more easily and help delivery vehicles to reach shops.

Cars heading into the city from that direction will be able to reach the car park next to The Assembly House.

The committee approved the consultation, which also enables council staff to pursue securing traffic regulation orders relating to the proposed restrictions and changes.

Under the St Stephens plan, cars wanting to get across the city centre will have to head down Queens Road to All Saints Green and then travel down Westlegate to rejoin Red Lion Street.

Traffic heading down Westlegate will no longer be able to cross into Rampant Horse Street, in front of Marks and Spencer and Debenhams, but instead forced to turn right.

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