Plans to bypass historic King's Lynn gateway described as a "disaster"
A plan by West Norfolk Council to bypass Lynn’s historic town gateway of the South Gate has been described as a “disaster” by those proposing an alternative scheme.
Architectural historian and Lynn resident Simon Thurley, former chief executive of English Heritage, and others opposing the plan say the council scheme involving a three-lane highway would destroy the South Gates’ historic setting, encourage bad driving behaviours and have a significantly negative impact on local people.
However, a spokesperson for West Norfolk Council described the plans as “a concept not a finalised, fully designed scheme”.
Southgates Park was set up in 1936 as “an open space for ever” for the benefit of the people of Lynn under the King George V Memorial Fund.
Mr Thurley said: “The park is a treasured local amenity for local residents and must not be allowed to disappear under a concrete flyover.
“The park should be restored, extended and improved both for local residents and as a setting for the Grade I-listed South Gate.
“This is not the time to be planning a new three-lane highway for the Southgates area. Coronavirus has changed the traditional rush hour for good. People want better quality, more accessible open spaces, not more roads.”
He added: “The borough council has an exciting opportunity to be given some serious funding through the Towns Fund initiative – which is great news for the town - but the money must be spent wisely.
“Last time such large sums were spent in the 1960s and 70s, we got the Vancouver Centre and Hillington Square, surface car parks and the destruction of hundreds of historic buildings. Looking back, nobody thinks this was a good result.”
Mr Thurley accused the council of holding a little-publicised online public consultation on the scheme last month.
But the West Norfolk Council spokesperson said: “The exercise last month was not a public consultation it was public information on a concept for the purpose of a funding submission.
“The primary objectives of the scheme are: to enhance the town centre gateway; to preserve the scheduled monument; to enhance the public access to the monument as a visitor attraction; to make best use of our heritage assets to promote and attract new visitors to the town; and to provide a safe and welcoming environment for cycling and walking in the area. There will be transport benefits primarily for out bound traffic but that is not the primary reason for the scheme.
“If funding is approved by Future High Street Fund, the design will be refined in consultation with statutory consultees like Historic England (dialogue is on-going), planning, highways and stakeholders. This will include the opportunity for public consultation before a final design is approved for construction.
“The Future High Street Fund submission is just the start of the process.”