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Strong public support for proposed city centre changes

Published on Friday, 26th June 2020

The public has shown strong support for proposed temporary changes on two Norwich streets.

Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council proposed a series of measures, to assist with social distancing and the provision of outdoor tables and chairs to help businesses reopen in a safe way.

381 responses were received; with 76 per cent of respondents (289) showing outright support for the proposals, with many more supporting in principle, subject to certain conditions being met. Only nine per cent of respondents (36 people) did not support plans at all.

The changes were welcomed by an overwhelming majority who felt the proposals would help them maintain physical distancing from each other, while also providing a life-line to local businesses affected by the pandemic.

Some concerns were raised around pavement obstructions and signage, restrictions to access and loading, and the wider traffic impacts of closing Exchange St to general traffic, and this has resulted in a number of minor modifications being made to the final plans.

As a result, from Friday 3 July when the new measures come into effect, both Exchange Street and St Benedicts Street will have almost no traffic, giving pedestrians much more space to walk along these streets.

This will also create opportunities for businesses to apply to have outdoor seating for the first time, which will enhance the street atmosphere and boost the financial recovery of the city.

Cllr Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for highways and infrastructure said: “I would like to thank the public for the fantastic response to the consultation. We hope the revised changes have taken all feedback on board and will help people to feel safe whilst also supporting the city’s economic recovery.

“Our actions have been boosted by timely government announcements surrounding social distancing and the re-opening of pubs, cafes and restaurants and we will continue to consult with all stakeholders on any further possible measures in other parts of the city.”

The city council’s licensing team will be contacting businesses from today to guide them through the licensing process and explain what areas could be available to them. The council has also taken the decision to temporarily reduce the application fee to provide further financial assistance.

Cllr Mike Stonard, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member for sustainable and inclusive growth, said: ”A big thanks to everyone who has given their views on the consultation. These changes will hopefully make a real and positive difference to how people use the city in the coming months. Looking to the future, we’re also reviewing what can be done in Magdalen Street, St Giles Street, Upper St Giles and Surrey Street and will share proposals as soon as we can.”

Interested businesses in the affected area can make a direct application here.

Further information

Access for loading and deliveries will be retained, along with the provision of disabled parking and car club spaces. Pavement widening will be extended into Charing Cross.

Traffic flows on the Cleveland Road junction to the Chapelfield roundabout will also be closely monitored, with traffic signal timings adjusted should there be a need to address traffic queuing.

Detailed plans for St Benedicts Street will be published early next week.