Disagreements over bus station

Thetford news from the Bury Free Press
Thetford news from the Bury Free Press

Bus operators are in disagreement with Norfolk County Council over plans for an interim bus station in Thetford.

Work to turn the existing Riverside bus station into a development, including a hotel and cinema, is due to start in spring 2014, alongside work on the Minstergate site, where a new bus station is to be built.

With the town expected to be without a permanent bus station for around a year, the Chase car park, in Bury Road, was proposed as a suitable site for a temporary one.

But, in a presentation to Thetford Town Council last Tuesday, Helen Martin, infrastructure officer for the county council, said bus operators wanted the ‘complete opposite’ when it came to the flow of traffic in and out of the site.

She said operators had concerns over the council’s proposed one-way flow, which include an entrance in Newtown and exit in Bury Road, as they would be forced to cross two lanes of queuing traffic.

Instead, they want the entrance in Bury Road and the exit in Newtown, she said.

Ms Martin told councillors the county had rejected the alternative flow because of perceived problems with congestion leading up to the traffic lights in Bury Road.

She said Coach Services and National Express agreed it would not be possible to operate an on-street operation in the town, emphasising the need for an off-street facility.

There was not sufficient funding to be able to use the old gas works site in Bury Road, she told councillors.

She added that £50,000 was available to carry out works on the interim station, with planning permission and a change of use required for the proposed Chase site.

Cllr Mike Brindle said: “Why not give Breckland the £50,000 and tell them they shouldn’t develop the existing site until the new one is completed?”

Thetford Town Council decided to write to Breckland Council and Norfolk County Council to request the current bus station be retained while any construction work is undertaken at the Riverside and Minstergate sites.