Stalemate over A47 dualling scheme

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

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

A stalemate over how parts of the 'old' A47 will be maintained if dualling goes ahead is continuing, after highways chiefs opposed demands of council bosses.

The final say on whether the multi-million pound dualling of a section of the A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham rests with transport secretary Grant Shapps. His decision is due by the end of next month.

The newly named co-chairman of the Conservative Party Grant Shapps leaves No 10 Downing Street in ce

Transport secretary Grant Shapps. - Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Mr Shapps last month sent a letter instructing Norfolk County Council and National Highways - the government-owned company proposing the scheme - to explain whether agreement will be reached over what happens to the current A47 if it is replaced by a dualled section.

A sticking point relates to passing of responsibility for around a mile and a half of the 'old' section of the road.

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. Picture: Highways England - Credit: Highways England

The A47, as a major road, is maintained by National Highways. But, if dualling is approved, part of the old road would be 'de-trunked', making it a local road.

Responsibility for it, and the cost of maintenance, would pass to Norfolk County Council.

Talks have been going on about the specifics of the switch - including what condition any handed over road sections would be in and what National Highways would provide to cover the cost of maintenance - since November 2020.

But with no resolution yet, County Hall lodged a request for what are known as 'protective provisions'.

If the scheme is approved with those provisions in place, it would give the council power to approve detailed plans of some elements of the scheme before it is built.

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It would also include a means to establish how much National Highways would pay in a one-off payment to the council to cover future maintenance costs.

But National Highways is resisting inclusion of such provisions, saying the best way to deal with the issue is through continued negotiations.

They say the provisions would give the council an "unacceptable level of control over the delivery of the Blofield project".

A National Highways spokesman said: "We will continue to work closely with Norfolk County Council to ensure maximum benefits for all and will provide a further update once a solution has been agreed."

A county council spokesman said discussions continued and was "hopeful" agreement could be reached.