Specialist consultants brought in to try to keep down the final bill for Norwich Northern Distributor Road

Aerial view of the NDR Northern Distributor Road. Sept 2017. Picture: Mike Page

Aerial view of the NDR Northern Distributor Road. Sept 2017. Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Mike Page

Specialist consultants have been brought in by Norfolk County Council to try to help bring down the escalating costs of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road.

The county council had set a £179.5m budget for the 12.5 mile road.

But the cost has soared beyond that budget, although the authority is reluctant to reveal by how much.

The council said delays and the need for changes to the work had pushed up the price.

But because it is in negotiations with contractor Balfour Beatty over the extra cost, it is not revealing how much more could be added to the bill.

The council says the public interest in keeping commercially sensitive information under wraps exceeds the public interest in releasing it.

But the council acknowledges failure to construct and deliver the road, which will stretch from the A47 at Postwick to the east to the A1067 Fakenham Road to the west, to budget would mean the shortfall would have to be met from other budgets.

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To try to keep the costs down, the council has 'reinforced' its project teams to 'provide increased scrutiny throughout the remaining works'.

Senior management meetings are also being held to discuss the commercial position and 'find ways of reducing costs'.

And the council has also brought in 'external specialists' who will examine Balfour Beatty's project works to date.

John Birchall, NDR public liaison officer, said: 'People can have absolute confidence that it's being very closely monitored to ensure that all the public money is being properly spent.'

He did not reveal the cost of the consultants, but said, once the overall cost is settled, details will be made public.

He said such audits were always part of major contracts, but extra resource had been brought in due to the need to keep the cost of the road as low as possible.

The road is now due to open in sections. The first section, from the A1067 to the A140 Cromer Road could be opened early next month.

There is also the potential for the next section, from the A140 Cromer Road to the A1151 Wroxham Road, to be open by the end of the year.

But the whole route is unlikely to be open before the end of March next year.