Plans to transform travel in Greater Norwich move a step closer
08 October 2019
Proposals for a substantial funding bid to central government that are to be submitted to a Council committee next week (16 October) have the potential to transform travel in Greater Norwich if approved.
In September 2018, Greater Norwich was one of 10 city areas shortlisted to apply for a share of an £840m grant from the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Transforming Cities Fund. In the following budget announcement, this was extended to 12 city areas and a £1.2bn total fund.
The fund aims to make it easier for people to access jobs, training and retail, and also aims to respond to issues around carbon reduction and improving local air quality, with a strong focus on increasing use of public transport, walking and cycling.
Transport for Norwich, which is a partnership between Norfolk, Norwich, Broadland District and South Norfolk councils successfully secured £6.1m from an initial £60m pot in March 2019 for six schemes, several of which are already on the ground, with Beryl announced as the provider of the city’s new bike share scheme just last week.
Members of the Transforming Cities Joint Committee will now meet on 16 October to discuss the schemes proposed in the main bid before submitting its recommendations to the November meeting of the Council’s Cabinet.
If approved, a successful bid could attract an unprecedented level of investment in local transport infrastructure in excess of £70m which would enable the delivery of a high-quality, integrated transport network for the area.
More frequent and faster bus journey times, cleaner vehicles, improvements to ticketing and travel information, better interchange between transport modes, improved facilities for walking and cycling and a more efficient use of the highway network are all features outlined in the proposals for Greater Norwich and the bid highlights strategic corridors, each with a focus on where they meet the city centre.
Our assessment to date indicates that the schemes outlined in the bid are those that best fit the requirements set out by the DfT, meet the priorities for investment outlined in public consultation and will deliver the maximum benefit for local residents, the economy and the environment.
A major city centre scheme central to the proposals is the remodelling of the layout of St Stephens Street, Red Lion Street and Castle Meadow to enable buses to pick up and set down passengers more easily, whilst reducing emissions and improving safety and the overall experience for passengers, pedestrians and cyclists using the city centre.
The expansion of the Norfolk Car Club is also being proposed, along with the introduction of new mobility hubs at key locations across Greater Norwich that will join up bike and car share schemes, with public transport links and more comprehensive passenger information.
Wymondham Rail Station and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital are two locations that could benefit from these new transport hubs and an expansion of the Thickthorn park and ride site, which would also facilitate the future option of new services to the Norwich Research Park.
Norwich Airport could see a new public transport link provided, as well as direct pedestrian and cycle access to the airport industrial estate and International Aviation Academy.
Additional measures are also being proposed along the Wymondham, Dereham Road, Sprowston and Rackheath corridors to improve bus journey times and facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.
Councillor Martin Wilby, Chair of the Transforming Cities Joint Committee says: “This funding bid has the potential to deliver investment in our sustainable transport infrastructure on an unprecedented scale which could transform how people travel around Norwich and deliver real benefit in terms of health, employment and the environment for years to come.”
Paul Martin, Commercial Manager at First Group said: "Operators have been working closely with Norfolk County Council and other stakeholders, in preparing a highly significant bid that has the potential to transform the future of bus travel in Norwich and is something we look forward to playing our part in.
Councillor Mike Stonard, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for transport, says: “Investment in public transport is vital to support Greater Norwich as it grows. This is a great opportunity to work with our local authority partners and the DfT on plans that could make a significant difference to the quality of major bus routes into the city. Building on recent investment in the pedalways we can also look forward to an even better sustainable transport network for Norwich.”
South Norfolk Council Leader John Fuller said: “This is a massive boost for the area and local economy. The funding has the potential to greatly increase access to jobs, reduce congestion and improve our air quality. It will enable us to improve public transport links to our key employment sites around Norwich, such as the Norwich Research Park, the University of East Anglia and the hospital, and provide better integration of the tech corridor with the city transport network, giving local people much greater access to employment opportunities.”
Councillor Shaun Vincent, Leader of Broadland District Council, said: “This opportunity is another step in the right direction to drive economic success in the Greater Norwich area and match the demands of the business community. Economic growth is our priority and the potential for improved connectivity through this funding can only support this.”
The proposals also include the potential for further journey enhancements along the Rackheath and Broadland business park routes, further park and ride expansion or provision of new sites and the possibility of a new public transport link between the University of East Anglia and Norwich Research Park.
If approved by the cabinet and joint committee, final plans will be submitted to The Department for Transport at the end of November 2019 with a funding decision expected in March 2020. Each individual scheme or group of schemes would then be subject to further development and public consultation, where appropriate.
Alongside this bid we have also submitted an application to fund further transport innovation that seeks to significantly reduce levels of single car occupancy in Norwich through the Future Mobility Zone (FMZ) fund.
This is an additional £90m pot of capital funding that’s been made available to those cities on the shortlist for Transforming Cities funding.
To download a copy of the original bid document for Greater Norwich or find details of the previous funding award, please visit: www.norfolk.gov.uk/transformingcities.