North Walsham’s Market Place will be closed to through-traffic from July 6 in a temporary measure to enable visitors and residents to be able to shop safely within the covid-19 guidelines.
A number of measures are being brought in as part of North Norfolk District Council’s covid-19 recovery programme, supported by Norfolk County Council.
But some retailers have expressed concern at the move, saying it was “pedestrianisation by stealth” and that it would hit businesses because of the lack of parking and through traffic.
Bob White, who owns The Showcase Gallery, said this would be another setback for a town which had already suffered from several weeks of closures for gas works before the covid-19 lockdown.
“Just as we are getting a little bit of life back, this happens,” he said. “Some shops haven’t reopened, others are seeing how it goes. I was looking to extend my opening hours but if this happens I will have to cut them back again.”
North Norfolk District Council said that the measures would be constantly reviewed as the national and local situation – and any further changes to regulations – unfold in the weeks and months ahead.
Eric Seward, deputy leader of North Norfolk District Council and councillor for North Walsham East, said: “These temporary measures are being taken to encourage shoppers to support the business community in North Walsham, by shopping safely and confidently whilst still being able to adopt the appropriate social distancing measures.
“We will of course be reviewing the measures we will be putting in place on an on-going and regular basis to ensure they are still required.”
But Mr White, who had printed hundreds of banners and posters saying the town was open for business, believes a closure is unnecessary.
“I am ordering a new version of the poster saying, ‘No traffic, no customers, no future’, and I will put them up,” he said.
Key changes effective from Monday, July 6 include Market Place being closed to through-traffic (access for the residents only) with a barrier in place at both ends.
The 30 minute free parking spaces and blue badge spaces will no longer be available on Market Place, however in the smaller section of Bank Loke car park a maximum stay one hour of free parking will be made available and will include four blue badge spaces.
Deliveries to Market Place need to be kept to a minimum within the hours of 10am to 4pm, but outside this time deliveries can take place freely.
Pavement decals with signage with social distancing-related messages will be applied this week.
Bus services will also see some changes and Sanders have confirmed their bus services will be using the registered Thursday Market day route during the closure as this is well-established and known by regular passengers.
For more detailed explanation of the changes, including regarding parking and buses, click here.