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Heritage volunteer backs South Gate road diversion idea

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A long-serving heritage volunteer has backed the idea of diverting traffic around Lynn’s South Gate, despite warnings that it might put the future of the site at risk.

A new transport strategy for the town includes the aim of expanding the Southgates roundabout to enable traffic to avoid passing under the 14th century building.

And Edith Reeves, who has been a volunteer at the site for the past 13 years, says that would be a very good thing.

The South Gate entry to King's Lynn on London Road.. (27912749)
The South Gate entry to King's Lynn on London Road.. (27912749)

She said: “If you want to keep the gate, you need to divert.”

The idea of taking traffic around the site was questioned by the former chief executive of English Heritage, Simon Thurley, in a letter to West Norfolk Council leaders earlier this week.

He said the South Gate would be best preserved by continuing to use it in the same way as it is at the moment, and as other towns and cities with similarly historic gateways do.

And he fears that diverting traffic could lead to it becoming an “unused monument” and potentially falling into disrepair.

Two years ago, a lottery grant worth nearly £90,000 was used to fund new interpretation displays inside the building in the hope of attracting more visitors.

And Mrs Reeves said the impact of traffic on the building was clear.

She said: “When you walk in, everywhere is covered in grit and dust.

“We have all got dusters and we clean it and within 10 minutes it’s covered again.

“Every car and bus going under the gate gives it a bit of a shake.”

Council leaders have said they are already looking at the details of the scheme and hope to have a full proposal drawn up over the next year.

The transport strategy describes the project as a medium term aim, suggesting it could be completed by 2030.

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