Wymondham could get 500 new homes before road improvements

More than 500 new homes could be built in Wymondham without any work to improve the Thickthorn junction on the A11, claims a Norwich-based engineering firm.

But the Joint Core Strategy (JCS), a blueprint for where thousands of houses will be built around Norwich over the next 16 years, claims that 'significant' improvements are needed.

Previous estimates for the work have been given at �45m and �40m, but the latest plans are currently set at a cost of just �30m.

The JCS currently claims that no more than 500 homes can be built before the work needs to be completed.

Speaking at the seventh day of a three-week inspection of the plans at the King's Centre in Norwich yesterday, Jonathon Cage of engineering firm Create Consulting said that a staged series of upgrades could take place rather than one large improvement.

'We believe that there's a series of phased improvements that can be delivered at Thickthorn before offering proposals that could end up costing �30m,' he said.

He added that there was 'no evidence' to back up the claim that only 500 homes could be supported by the current junction.

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'We've carried out significant modelling of Thickthorn and that's shown that we can accommodate more than 500 units on the current Thickthorn junction.

'It's not a show-stopper,' he added.

Currently there are 2,200 new homes planned for the town, but this could increase after the inspection is complete.

Eric Cooper, from the Highways Agency, said: 'Thickthorn is a key junction not just for Wymondham but for the other areas.

'Cumulatively there's going to be a significant impact on that junction and that junction will not be able to cope with all that growth.'

He said that while there were no definitive schemes yet, there were opportunities for improvement, including the option to 'squeeze another lane in'.

But he said that the decision on when the improvements should be made was not as simple as setting a maximum number of homes.

'If you've got 500 or 1,000 homes right at the junction its likely to be more difficult to manage that. If its further away at Wymondham you've got rail and it's slightly different.'

Richard Doleman, representing Norfolk County Council for the Greater Norwich Development Partnership, said that the organisation was not against a phased approach for the Joint Core Strategy.

'We're working closely with the Highways Agency to understand how those improvements can be phased,' he said.

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