Plans to take cars off town’s high street are put on ice after protest

Pedestrianisation working party members (from left): North Norfolk District Council chairman Richard

Pedestrianisation working party members (from left): North Norfolk District Council chairman Richard Shepherd, county and district councillor Judy Oliver and Sheringham town councillor David Ward in High Street, Sheringham, where they had hoped to run a traffic-free trial. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

A plan to run a pedestrianisation trial in part of Sheringham town centre has been shelved, after around 30 traders turned out to a meeting to voice concerns about the impact the scheme could have on their businesses.

The trial was the idea of district and county councillor Judy Oliver, who sent out a 5,000-household survey asking for local people's views on having a traffic-free zone at the beginning of last year.

After Sheringham Town Council voted against setting up a working party, Mrs Oliver formed her own group and met with a Norfolk County Council highways representative to discuss taking the plan forward and running a trial during the summer.

However, at a town council meeting held on February 20, angry traders said they had not been consulted about the scheme, which they felt would have a detrimental effect on their businesses.

The council was also told that not enough research had been carried out about the economic impact of pedestrianisation and that the scheme had not been clear about its aims.

At a town council meeting held last week, councillors voted to take the lead on the issue and have formed a town centre development group chaired by Cllr Liz Withington.

'It isn't just about pedestrianisation,' Mrs Withington said. 'It is about ensuring Sheringham has a sustainable, vibrant and profitable town centre, as without our independent retailers, we would just become a seaside resort that is open from June to September.'

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The development group, which will be made up of residents and representatives from Sheringham carnival committee, the Chamber of Trade and the town council, would be looking at the town centre as a whole, Mrs Withington added.

'I feel there hasn't been enough evaluation of what the impact of pedestrianisation would be and my feeling is that we would be better to look at how we increase footfall into the town and make it a better pedestrian and driver experience,' she said.

North Norfolk District Council chairman and Sheringham resident Richard Shepherd, who was a member of the pedestrianisation working party set up by Mrs Oliver, said he was still keen for a pedestrianisation trial to go ahead.

He added: 'I am obviously disappointed, but the plan hasn't been ruled out, it has been deferred.'