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Southgates consultation – the public liked the plan

Southgates sketch

Published: Wednesday, 11th January 2023

A consultation on the masterplan for the Southgates area suggests that overall, the public approved of the plan.

More than 3/4 of respondents (77%) said they agreed with the vision set out in the masterplan, which proposed diverting traffic around the South Gate to enable it to reach its full potential as a heritage asset and improve the area for all who travel through it or live near it.

Cllr Richard Blunt, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration and development, said:

“This is great news. We commissioned this masterplan as a means of using the wider Southgates area as a vehicle for driving economic growth in King’s Lynn and improving access to the town, while protecting and enhancing important heritage assets.

“The comments we received were really helpful: many were really detailed and they provide the residents’ perspective, which is crucial to the development of a plan that will succeed. To have the public’s endorsement for the plan is an important step forward for this project and I thank everyone who took time to take part in the consultation.”

Southgates has functioned as the southern entrance into King’s Lynn since the 15th Century and is full of heritage assets that illustrate the town’s historical significance, notably the South Gate itself.

The site is a strategic area for regeneration in the King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council’s Heritage Action Zone Programme, the King’s Lynn Transport Strategy and the Town Investment Plan, all of which identify its potential to create an improved entrance and major economic asset for the town.

The consultation asked people for their views on a set of proposals to develop the area, which had been put together by BDP, an experienced practice of urban designers, town planners, architects and landscape architects, together with transport advisor, Urban Flow, and property advisor, Montagu Evans.

The proposals set out what future development at Southgates could try to achieve. They suggested opportunities for highways, heritage and urban design improvements that would sustain long-term economic activity and create an attractive and active gateway to King’s Lynn.

81% of respondents agreed that the level of ambition proposed for the area was about right and 83% agreed with the proposal to divert traffic around the South Gate, with additional strong support for retaining the gate’s use as a historic entrance by directing pedestrians and cyclists through it.

These statistics were reflected in people’s comments, which spoke of the traffic problems people experienced and a desire to make it more friendly for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as protecting the South Gate. Respondents had divergent views on some aspects of the area, for example some suggested that the old Ford garage should be protected while others said it should be torn down.

Gergana Draganova, Urban Design Director at BDP, said:

“We are delighted with the results of the public consultation, which demonstrate that there is a real mandate for the proposed changes to the Southgates area.

“The key themes emerging from the feedback received show that the strategic priorities identified by the Masterplan are of real importance to the local community and will serve to unlock the full potential of the area as an important gateway site.”

The Borough Council and its partners are now exploring funding opportunities for the masterplan. A draft version of the plan seeking funding support towards the proposed highway, public realm and active travel infrastructure in the area was submitted to the Government’s Levelling Up fund on behalf of the partners by Norfolk County Council in August. (This had to be done in order to meet the deadline for bids to the fund but does not prevent changes to the masterplan arising from consultation feedback.) An announcement on whether the bid has been successful is expected early in 2023.

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