Businesses back councillor’s call for end to traffic chaos around King’s Lynn supermarket

Busy traffic scene  at the traffic light  Junction next to the Tesco petrol station Hardwick Road King's Lynn ANL-150604-081158009
Busy traffic scene at the traffic light Junction next to the Tesco petrol station Hardwick Road King's Lynn ANL-150604-081158009
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Councillors and officials have demanded urgent talks with company bosses in a bid to end congestion problems around a major Lynn supermarket.

Leaked documents suggest the owners of the Hardwick Retail Park are “losing patience” with Tesco over jams around the site’s main access road, which the supermarket giant owns.

And the company has now been told it must act, amid claims some consumers are boycotting the area altogether.

County councillor Alexandra Kemp, whose Clenchwarton and Lynn South division includes the retail park, said the issue was a regular complaint among local people and had been particularly “unacceptable” over the Christmas period.

She said: “There’s something not right with that layout. It’s causing congestion. It’s causing hazard and it needs more care and attention.”

Although the retail park is owned by UBS, the access road that leads to it and the Tesco store from the junction with Hardwick Road and Scania Way is owned by Tesco.

That means the store chain, not Norfolk County Council as the highways authority, is responsible for maintenance and improvements.

Both Miss Kemp and a senior county highways officer have called for an urgent meeting with Tesco in order to find a solution.

She said: “People are saying they will boycott the area because they are fed up of sitting in queues. This is a poor state of affairs for local commerce. It can’t continue.”

And a Tesco spokesman said the company was “happy” to meet with councillors and officers to discuss the issue.

But e-mails sent late last week, which the Lynn News has seen, reveal that Tesco and UBS have both engaged the services of solicitors over the issue.

And one of them, sent by Lynne McDonald, associate director for property and asset management of JLL, the agents for UBS, makes their frustrations clear.

She said: “Our client is losing patience with Tesco and wants to see a resolution to this issue asap.

“Any pressure the County Council can apply would be much appreciated.”

In another e-mail, Stuart Thatcher, pre-development manager for Tesco in the south-east of England, admitted there is a traffic problem at peak times because of the trading patterns of both the store and the businesses in the retail park.

But he added: “We do not agree that our development has interfered with the legal right of way afforded to UBS and its tenants, as it has remained unchanged as a left hand turn off our access road.

“If anything we have provided infrastructure to improve traffic flow to both our store and the Retail Park as we have opened a second junction to Hardwick Road, so not all traffic is controlled at the Scania Way lights.”

That refers to an alternative exit, via Campbells Meadow, which was developed as part of the scheme to build the larger Tesco store and Dobbies garden centre, which opened in October 2013.

But Miss Kemp claims many customers still do not know about the alternative exit point, almost 18 months after it opened.

She said: “A lot of people still believe they can’t go out that way. There needs to be more clarity. There needs to be more signs.”

The e-mails also show that Tesco bosses have proposed to lower the height of a fence to a development site opposite the retail park.

They claim that would make it easier for drivers to see the extent of any congestion before they try to leave the site.

Another possible solution contained in the documents is the installation of a mini-roundabout at the junction of the access road with Hardwick Road and Scania Way.

However, Mr Thatcher wrote that while it would improve the situation, he understood it would not completely solve the problem.