December 7 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Calls have been made for a fresh look at the previously rejected routes which would link the Norwich Northern Distributor Road with the A47 to the west of the city.
The debate over the route of the £148.5m road has been re-ignited in recent weeks as the county council nears the submission of a development consent application for the road to the Planning Inspectorate.
The current plan is for a 19.5km dual carriageway road from the A47 at Postwick to the east of the city to the A1067 Fakenham Road to the northwest.
The government has agreed to contribute £86.5m towards that road and has said the scheme is of “national significance”.
That proposal was adopted by the county council in September 2005 and came about after a number of routes were considered back in the early 2000s.
But the initial goal was to link to the A47 in the west. Those routes linked to the A47 in the west, but all ended up being rejected.
One of the key sticking points - and the reason the council decided to go with the current plan - was that the River Wensum is a Special Area of Conservation and it was concluded there was not a cost-effective solution to take the road through that area without having a detrimental impact.
However, councillors have clearly not given up on one day linking the road to the A47. The Conservatives, in their manifesto for May’s elections, said they were committed to a ‘complete’ road, while the Liberal Democrats want a feasibility study to be conducted looking again at whether a solution can be found.
Tim East, Liberal Democrat councillor for Costessey, said it was worth dusting down the routes which were rejected to look at whether they - or another way to link the road through - stacked up.
He said: “Back then we thought the orange route might be feasible, but we just don’t know what the situation is now. That’s the whole purpose of us looking to get it back on the agenda and asking for a feasibility study.
“The big problem we have here on this side of the city is rat-running, through Costessey, Taverham, Easton and Ringland.
“The people who come from the north-west of the city and county are just going to keep doing that to try to get to the A11, the hospital or Norwich Research Park, unless we get a complete road.”
Mr East said he still believed a bridge spanning the river Wensum could solve the problem, but that a feasibility study was needed to establish the cost.
He said: “I don’t think we should wait until after the 3/4 NDR is built to be looking at these issues. It makes sense to look at the missing link now, even if we cannot deliver that at the moment, there is no harm in considering it.”
Officers at Norfolk County Council have said the NDR as currently planned stands on its own merits, will ease congestion and bring an economic shot in the arm for the county.
A spokesman said: “Three of the main political parties have stated that the long term ambition should be to continue the NDR from the A1067 to the A47 west of Norwich, but this does not form part of the council’s proposals because an environmentally acceptable and affordable way of crossing the Wensum Special Area of Conservation could not be found.
“For traffic that needs a link from the A47 west of Norwich to the A1067 Fakenham road, improvement of a route between the A47 Wood Lane junction and the A1067 at Lenwade is underway.
“As proposed, the NDR performs very well, and if the road opens in 2017, some 30,000 to 40,000 vehicles a day would use the route between the A140 at Norwich Airport and the A47 at Postwick, bringing relief on unsuitable and congested routes in and around Norwich.
“At the western end, where it joins the A1067 Fakenham Road, two-way flows would be much less at 13,500 vehicles a day
“Detailed analysis of traffic flows has shown that there would be little effect, and even some traffic reductions, on minor roads through the Tud and Wensum valleys and over Ringland hills.”
Chris Starkie, managing director of the New Anglia LEP, agreed the currently planned NDR would be a boost for businesses.
He said it would boost the economy by an estimated £1.3bn by reducing congestion, increasing trade and creating new jobs.
He said: “The current route from Postwick to the A1067 Fakenham Road works on its own merits and will be a significant economic boost.
“People say ‘why can’t we just do without it?’ and I’d ask them to imagine life without the southern bypass and the improved travelling time that has brought.
“If you live in Poringland and work at the airport, how do you get there? And if you have a business in Lenwade and want to distribute in areas to the south of Norwich, how do you do that? The NDR will help with that.”
But Mr Starkie added: “It’s fair to say that in the future, we would like to see the road provide a complete northern route around the city.
“Our view has been that, with funding available for the route as far as the A1067, it is important to get that done and get that delivered.
“That is a significant road scheme in its own right. While we do want to see a complete route, we don’t want to see what is planned held up.”