Alarm bells over buses

Final touches are being put to a scheme for a new £350,000 bus interchange in the centre of Dereham - but it is not stopping growing opposition to the project.

Final touches are being put to a scheme for a new £350,000 bus interchange in the centre of Dereham - but it is not stopping growing opposition to the project.

Work is due to start on the scheme in 2008/9 but Dereham Society has this week repeated concerns about its possible effect on the town.

And says a long term solution for all the town's traffic problems needs to be drawn up.

The group says the planned interchange at Market Place would further erode space for a market instead of creating space for one to grow and would be a hazard for pedestrians.

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In a letter to Norfolk County Council, Breckland Council and Dereham Town Council, the group says Breckland's own local development plan says the town's market needs to move back to Market Place from its current home at Cowper Road car park.

And that although a bus interchange is needed, the Market Place scheme, with busses coming into town through the High Street, is not the way to do it.

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It has suggested using the Cowper Road car park instead but this has been ruled out because Breckland Council would not give up the car parking space.

Philip Morton, acting chairman of the group, said: “It's felt that Dereham, though growing in size and importance as a focal point in mid-Norfolk, is being 'short changed' by Breckland and Norfolk County Council in terms of its traffic and infrastructure requirements.

“We believe there is a ground swell of public opinion that will support our objections.

“We ask for a re-consideration of the proposal and remain available for consultation at any time.”

However, Peter Cudby, infrastructure officer at Norfolk County Council, said yesterday: “The current interchange is inadequate to accommodate current numbers of busses and passengers it has to and that number is going to grow so something had to be done otherwise Dereham will collapse in on itself.

“We looked at various options and put forward the preferred scheme after consultation.”

He said the new site will mean modern disability act compliant bus shelters can be built, possibly with new electronic information boards.

Busses could not stop on the other Barclays bank side of the road as the footpath was too narrow, he added.

And said that the scheme was supported by the town council and the local member.

Discussions are currently under way with bus operators on the new interchange, mainly to iron out any operational issues, and it was hoped for work to start in 2008/9.

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