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County Councillor Alison Thomas and District Councillor Terry Blowfield next to the A140 at Long Stratton where developers Pegasus have asked for permission to undertake a scoping report for a bypass. Photograph Simon Parker
By dominic bareham
Monday, February 25, 2013
A long-awaited bypass for a Norfolk village could be on its way after an approach to South Norfolk Council about conducting an environmental study on a potential site.
Planning consultants Pegasus Group are seeking information about a single-carriageway bypass and 1,800 residential and commercial properties east of Long Stratton.
It appears to be a concrete move towards a bypass to relieve traffic congestion on the busy A140 Ipswich Road through the village, an idea first mooted nearly 80 years ago.
Since then, a Long Stratton bypass committee, campaigning for an alternative route, has come and gone and there have been numerous false dawns, including in 2008 when plans were drawn up and planning permission secured for a bypass only for the East of England Regional Assembly to pull funding because the project was deemed not of regional significance.
Signs can still be seen dotted around the village calling for a bypass to take traffic away from the main Norwich/Ipswich road.
The Pegasus letter, which appears on the council’s planning applications website, was welcomed by the county councillor for Long Stratton, Alison Thomas, once a member of the bypass committee – though she admits after so many false starts she will only believe it once she sees building work start on the new road.
She said: “I’m aware there is work going on behind the scenes and I welcome the beginning of something.
“Obviously there is an awful lot of work that needs to be done between now and a planning application and the residents of Long Stratton need to be involved in the consultations.
“I want to make sure anything that is done enhances the community. It is a really exciting opportunity for the community to get involved and have a say in the village’s future.”
South Norfolk district councillor Terry Blowfield, who represents Long Stratton, said: “I hear a lot of doubters in Long Stratton who say ‘I will never see it in my lifetime.’ But it seems like it is going to come to fruition.”
John Holden, a Pegasus director, said the letter was the “very start of the process” and much work would be needed before a planning application could even be considered.
The scoping letter was required by law to mitigate potential environmental impact and asked the council for its opinion on what the environmental statement should be.
The council will consult with statutory bodies, including the Environment Agency, Natural England and English Heritage, to determine what is needed before reporting back to Pegasus in a month.
Mr Holden said the proposed site was east of the A140 on land owned by the Leeder family but any more detail, including where the bypass would start and finish and the overall cost of the scheme was yet to be determined.
He said Pegasus had been appointed in accordance with the provisions of the Greater Norwich Development Partnership’s joint core strategy to build 37,000 new homes across Norfolk.
“We really want to get this delivered, but we have to do it through the proper procedures just like everybody else and and we want to get it done as quickly as possible,” Mr Holden added.