Thetford station plans move forward

The finer details of a proposed new bus station due to be delivered as part of a wider regeneration project in Thetford have been have been revealed for the first time.

Proposed for a site between Minstergate and St Nicholas Street, the Bus Interchange would include five bays, toilets, parking for 14 cars, disabled access, a “meet and greet” area, cycle racks and repairs to a listed building, formerly a carpet warehouse.

If granted planning permission, the bus station would replace the town’s existing bays on Bridge Street which would then be turned into a Leisure and Heritage Quarter with shops, cafes, a hotel, cinema and bowling alley.

A report to go before Norfolk County Council planning officials said care had been paid to provide a balance between public access and parking and taxi areas, and safe bus stops.

It went on: “The layout has been devised to ensure that buses can enter and leave the site in a safe manner and has been the subject of careful analysis. This has been subject to computer track analysis; physically tested by buses; and has been subject to safety audit analysis.

“This has led to a layout that provides safe movement for buses and pedestrians, avoiding potential conflict between these two movements.”

The quarter-hectare site at Minstergate has been mooted for some time as an appropriate site for the town’s new bus station but some in the town felt it would be unsuitable.

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As a result a parish poll was called earlier this year asking residents whether they felt the bus station should stay on its current Bridge Street site.

With a turnout of 14pc, 81pc voted not to move the station and two alternative plans were submitted which showed how it could look if redeveloped at its current location.

After testing these for effectiveness however, MTF officials decided to move ahead with their original plan.

The application includes provision for direct pedestrian access to Minstergate and St Nicholas Street to enable easy access to shops and London Road, toilets would be of a “striking design” with a curved flint wall at the junction of St Nicholas Street and London Road, and buses would enter into a one-way system off Minstergate and exit on to St Nicholas Street.

Access to the site from Minstergate would be limited to buses, with private cars and taxis having to wait in a car park off St Nicholas Street where there would be 14 spaces, including four disabled.

Five bus bays would be built on the site, each with its own shelter, seating and lighting and provision for real-time displays to be incorporated at a later date.

Also provided would be a bicycle shelter and ticket vending machine, signage and information boards and a main display located at a “high level” on the proposed toilet block, facing the bus station.

The Grade II listed building would be made water tight, its roof repaired and a “fully-glazed gable triangle” installed, windows would be reinstated and provision made for a first floor if needed in the future.

The report added: “As a part of the works will be the conservation of a fire-damaged listed building which highlights the history of the town. The conservation of this listed building will ensure that it will be accessible for future use, while giving both residents and visitors to Thetford a sense of the town’s past.”

It went on to say a number of open days had been held for people and businesses to give feedback to the scheme as a whole and said: “As a part of the open days a broad spectrum of views were received. “These ranged from those querying the needs to change, to those who highlighted the need for a suitable transport facility for the further of Thetford. Views received were fed back to the client body, MTF. Where the MTF board deemed it to be appropriate these views have been incorporated.”

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