‘Spectacular’ scheme for key part of Lowestoft to be showcased as transport bid views are sought

MULTI-MILLION pound plans to improve transport links in central Lowestoft and regenerate the heart of the town will come under the spotlight next week – with people urged to offer their views on 'an exciting vision'.

From Monday, a public exhibition is being held at Lowestoft library to outline a series of proposals, focused on Station Square, that seek to combat congestion and encourage more people to use public transport.

The plans – which were partially unveiled last year – include a new pedestrian and cycle swing bridge over Lake Lothing, a bus-rail interchange at the railway station and improvements to the Commercial Road junction.

It comes as ambitious plans for a new tidal barrage and third road crossing – drawn up by businessman Peter Colby – come under scrutiny from key decision-makers at a separate meeting at Lowestoft Town Hall.

Mr Colby will meet Waveney District Council's chief executive Stephen Baker, economic development professionals and representatives from the Environment Agency on Wednesday to 'discuss a range of technical issues' surrounding his proposals which have been warmly welcomed by many people in the town.

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The plans to be showcased at the library exhibition – which runs until October 16 – form part of the Lowestoft Lake Lothing and Outer Harbour Area Action Plan (AAP) that was adopted by Waveney in January.

A council spokesman told The Journal: 'As part of a comprehensive AAP for the regeneration around Lake Lothing and Outer Harbour area, a public exhibition is taking place next week seeking people's views on the proposals for an initial phase of improvement works around Station Square area. Suffolk County Council will be leading the consultation and its representatives will be there along with officers from Waveney District Council to answer people's inquiries. Alternatively, there will be display boards at Lowestoft Railway Station.'

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He added: 'This initial work builds into an exciting vision for regenerating the area, which would see Peto Square and South Quay become a central focus for retail, leisure, tourism and commercial development.'

This week, a meeting with stakeholders was held in Lowestoft ahead of the public exhibition.

The main elements of the proposals are:

?A new bus-rail interchange at the railway station with facilities for a taxi rank, better traffic signal timings, a cycle lane, a toucan cycle crossing at Katwijk Way, improved cycle storage, more disabled parking spaces and a new area for buses to drop off passengers.

?A pedestrian and cycle swing bridge across Lake Lothing, which is wider and safer than the existing footway on the Bascule Bridge.

?Commercial Road junction improvements to improve access to the port and help secure its role as a key employment area.

Waveney's cabinet member for planning, David Ritchie, said: 'The plans for this part of Lowestoft are spectacular and I hope that our communities and visitors will come to the exhibition and see for themselves.'

Meanwhile, Mr Colby is preparing to discuss his plans for a tidal barrage and road crossing at Wednesday's meeting. His scheme – which incorporates a lock and two lifting bridges – is based on the North Sea polder dams in Holland and seeks to ease congestion while protecting the town from sea flooding.

Mr Colby, who hails from Lowestoft and runs Sprowston-based Peter Colby Commercials – said: 'One of the principal objects of the barrage is to protect Lowestoft from flooding. The barrage will effectively return Lowestoft to what it once was. The barrage itself is a very simple construction and the proposal has been checked by reputable civil engineers, and a budget estimate has been arrived at of circa �17m. This estimate includes all construction costs including the bridge over ABP's land and the railway crossing but not land purchase.'

He said it was crucial the project had the support of Waveney, the county council, and all the relevant bodies in order to move forward. He added: 'If the Dutch people can deliver a project like this in two years, so can we. It is not difficult.'

Suffolk's cabinet member for roads, planning and transport, Guy McGregor, acknowledged that investment was required in Lowestoft to 'make sure that all the traffic systems are working properly'.

Asked whether Mr Colby's scheme had spurred the county council into drawing up its latest proposals, he said: 'What it has done is force us to think about the tremendous amount of work that has been done and communicate that to the public.

'We want to bring to the table realism of what is possible and who can achieve these things where. We all understand the issue of the third crossing, but we are talking about �10m that we do not have.'


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