Sheringham sinkhole road closure sparks pedestrianisation petition
PUBLISHED: 16:30 25 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:40 25 July 2019
A Sheringham gift shop owner has re-ignited the town's long-running pedestrianisation debate, by launching a petition to make the tables and chairs placed in the high street after its closure due to the sinkhole a more permanent fixture.
Charlotte Stubbs, whose family owns Creativity, in High Street, says that since the sinkhole opened up in the road just a few yards from her shop two months ago, the response from local people and holidaymakers to the resulting lack of traffic has been "almost 100 per cent positive".
"Being at the narrowest part of the road, we see all the near-misses with cars," Mrs Stubbs said. "It is a nightmare in summer, especially for people with dogs, children or wheelchairs, but, since the sinkhole, this part of the road has been traffic-free and it's been amazing."
The issue has been raised a number of times over the years, most recently in 2017, when a group of town and district councillors sent out a 5,000-household survey asking for people's opinions on a creating a traffic-free zone.
But, in spite of results showing just over 70pc of respondents were in favour of some form of car-free zone, some traders voiced concerns about the impact on their businesses and town councillors voted against plans to run a pedestrianisation trial.
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A town council-led development group is currently working with Norfolk County Council's highways department on a feasibility study looking at the possibility of introducing traffic-calming measures which could include a 20mph speed limit, wider pavements and a 'green gateway' into the town.
Mrs Stubbs said that rather than close off the whole of High Street, as proposed in previous plans, she would like to see just a short stretch of the road pedestrianised - from the junction of Co-operative Street, to the corner of Wyndham Street.
"It is just a matter of a few metres but it would make all the difference," she said. "We don't want to close the whole street as we don't want to lose parking spaces, but we have had an incredible response to the petition and we want to give everyone a chance to see what pedestrianisation would be like, even if it was just during the peak season."
Mrs Stubbs is now planning to take the petition to September's meeting of Sheringham Trade and Commerce and hopes to persuade councillors to revisit the idea of running a trial.
"It has been amazing to have tables and chairs outside our shops and it's so nice for the food outlets to have somewhere for their customers to sit, pedestrianisation would be a bonus for everyone," she said.
Sheringham Town Council has been approached for comment.