Thetford “lucky” to get bus station cash

Thetford should “count itself lucky” that money is available to build a controversial new bus station, a leading member of Norfolk County Council’s cabinet has said.

A planning application was submitted to Norfolk County Council last year to build the station between St Nicholas Street and Minstergate in Thetford, while regenerating its existing site, off Bridge Street.

However, the proposal has split opinion in the town. The Moving Thetford Forward Partnership, which submitted the application, says it is vital to regenerate the town, but Thetford Town Council last year voted against it moving.

At a county council cabinet meeting on Monday (May 14), county councillors were asked to agree to take steps which will see a home in Minstergate bought by the council, because it would be blighted by the new bus interchange.

Mike Brindle, newly appointed Liberal Democrat group leader and councillor for Thetford West, had raised concerns that the proposed pavements in Minstergate were too narrow and could threaten pedestrian safety.

He said he was worried that, with it being a heavily used pedestrian route from two housing estates into the town, people pushing two buggies would struggle to pass safely in the presence of a bus.

However, councillors said it was important to get on with the scheme and agreed that officers could proceed with either buying the Minstergate home at market value or forcing the owners to sell it using a compulsory purchase order.

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And Bill Borrett, cabinet member for environment and waste, said: “Thetford should count itself lucky to have that money spent on it at a time when there is very little of it about.

“I don’t know what all the fuss is about and I think we should get on and do it.”

Graham Plant, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said he would consider Mr Brindle’s concerns, but added that the scheme had been safety audited and found to be acceptable.