A47 dualling gets government green light

What changes to the A47 would look like at Blofield looking towards Acle. Picture: Highways England

What changes to the A47 would look like at Blofield looking towards Acle. - Credit: Highways England

The long-awaited dualling of a section of the A47 between Norwich and Acle has been given the go-ahead - hailed as an economic boost for the region.

The government green light means just over 1.6 miles of the road between Blofield and North Burlingham - considered a crash blackspot by police - will be dualled.

It is a hugely significant step for the region - triggering the start of £300m of work on the A47 which was first earmarked back in 2014.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps - Credit: PA

Transport secretary Grant Shapps announced on Wednesday (June 22) that he would grant development consent for the work, which will cost up to £90m.

It is the first of three schemes where decisions will be made in the months ahead, which will dual some of the remaining single carriageway sections of a road considered one of the most important in the county.

Mr Shapps agreed with a recommendation by planning inspector Alex Hutson that the scheme should go ahead.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council Member for Highways, Infrastructure and Transport. Picture: Dan

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport - Credit: Danielle Booden

Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport at Norfolk County Council, and chair of the A47 Alliance, said: "This is very welcome news as this dualling will make a positive difference to Norfolk and the eastern region’s economy by improving safety, congestion, connectivity and journey times along the route.

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"We will continue to press the government for further improvements to also be given the green light to ease the many issues drivers face on the A47 on a daily basis.”

National Highways says safety improvements will also be made to the Yarmouth Road junction, closing the right turn and adding a dedicated lane to join the A47.

The A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham. Pic: Highways England.

The A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham. Pic: Highways England. - Credit: Highways England

Between 2011 and 2021, there were 33 crashes in which people were killed or hurt on the A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham, Norfolk police said.

Highways bosses said the stretch is used by 30,000 vehicles each day and has one of the highest recorded accident rates for an A road in the UK.

A new bridge will also be added over the new dual carriageway at Blofield.

However, despite discussions, the scheme does not include a crossing, so cyclists and pedestrians can get between North Burlingham and Lingwood.

More than a thousand people had signed a petition calling for such a scheme close to those villages, but Highways England did not include one.

And Blofield Parish Council raised concerns about the impact on traffic in Blofield.

But Chris Griffin, programme leader for National Highways in the East Region, said: "We are delighted with today’s announcement which means we can proceed with our plans to replace this section of the A47 with a dual carriageway.

"This will reduce congestion, improve journey times and, most significantly, make the road safer.

“Getting the green light for this project means we reach the next stage in our commitment to improving the A47 corridor with six major projects worth almost half a billion pounds of investment.

"At this stage I would also like to acknowledge and thank all those who have helped with the development of this scheme. We remain grateful for your contributions and look forward to building on those relationships as we move towards construction.

“Increasing road capacity and connecting communities across the east of England will pave the way for economic growth in this part of the country."

National Highways says the dualled section between Blofield and North Burlingham is due to open to traffic in the summer of 2024.

By the autumn, decisions will have been made on two more major Norfolk A47 schemes - dualling of a section between North Tuddenham and Easton and changes to the Thickthorn roundabout on the edge of Norwich.

Those have also been subject to a string of hearings and recommendations by planning inspectors have been sent to Mr Shapps.

A stalemate between council chiefs and highways bosses, over how parts of the 'old' A47 will be maintained if all the schemes go ahead, has recently been resolved.

The A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham. Pic: Highways England.

The A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham. Pic: Highways England. - Credit: Highways England

On the Blofield/North Burlingham decision, Sarah Richards, chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate, said: "This examination took place during the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions and the examining authority worked hard to ensure that local people, the local authority and other interested parties were able to fully participate.

“The examining authority listened and gave full consideration to local views and the evidence gathered during the examination before making its recommendation.”