Norwich Cycling Campaign has slammed the supermarket chain Aldi and the Norfolk Council for opening a store in Longwater Retail Park, Costessey which could cause “unspeakable damage”, with no safe cycling and pedestrian paths and crossings in place.
The new store is set to open on July 6, but there’s not even a proper footpath for pedestrians in the area, let alone a cycle track. To cross over from Long Lane to William Frost Way, where the retail store will open, cyclists have to dismount and cross a 1.5 metre wide footpath on the bridge over A47 — next to a three-lane road with heavy traffic, including HGVs.
Derek Williams from the Norwich Cycling Campaign told road.cc: “The whole thing is really dangerous. There’s a school and a college nearby, this area is supposed to be a safe route for children and teenagers. But the council didn’t do any investigations, no public consultations.”
Even though a crossing on William Frost Way was agreed during the planning process, it is still absent just a week before the supermarket giant opens its doors, and Williams believes that Aldi is “trying to avoid their obligation” to build it.
“What’s happened recently, is that Aldi have decided they don’t want to go about this process. They are fighting it as hard as they can, they are doing everything they can to pull out of paying for it,” said Williams.
Plans have been proposed for more cycling infrastructure, but Williams said that they are “terrifying” and would only pose more risk to those using them.
“Longwater Park is on the edge of the city, nobody can really go there unless they can drive,” said Williams. “It’s been a huge barrier for cycle journeys to the west of Norwich for the last 30 years.”
“So even if they build this low quality cycle path, it’s going to attract a lot of people, because a lot of people, including teenagers and children will be on their bikes going there. But no assessment has ever been made of their needs.”
“It’s going to be downright dangerous, it’s going to cause unspeakable damage.”
He added: “The cycling route they’re planning is a three-metre shared use pavement with a terribly substandard side road junctions, and a terrible crossing of Dereham road to get to the other side of it.
“And on top of that, the bridge over the A47 will just be 50cm wider. This is not infrastructure fit for use by anyone. It’s shameful how they are completely ignoring the LTN1/20 guidelines.”
There is however, still confusion as to who is to pay for the crossing. A new crossing on William Frost Way was originally proposed as part of the Persimmon housing estate development at Easton.
Aldi insists that when the planning approval was given back in April 2021, it was decided that the project’s funds are to be split between itself and Persimmon.
The supermarket had previously claimed that a crossing will be put in place at some point, saying it’s “in dialogue with officers at South Norfolk Council to find a way for the new crossing to be delivered, by both Aldi and Persimmon as soon as possible”.
An Aldi spokesperson told road.cc: “We are looking forward to opening our new store on July 6, and are working with both the local authority and the developer of a local housing scheme to jointly deliver the new crossing on William Frost Way as soon as possible.”
Williams said that the buck was being passed around, and as the opening date draws closer, with footfall in the area destined to go up, nothing is being done to look after the vulnerable road users.
“Basically they’re trying to squeeze quart into a pint pot. Traffic capacity is their only consideration, walking and cycling are being squeezed into what’s left,” he said.
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.