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Extra inspectors needed for Norwich NDR probe?

PUBLISHED: 09:27 11 June 2014

Norwich Northern Distributor Road protesters before the last week's preliminary meeting over the planning inquiry.  Photo by Simon Finlay.

Norwich Northern Distributor Road protesters before the last week's preliminary meeting over the planning inquiry. Photo by Simon Finlay.

The inquiry to decide whether the controversial £148.5m Norwich Northern Distributor Road should go ahead could be overseen by a panel of inspectors rather than just one – due to the complexity of the case and the level of public interest in it.

Norfolk County Council wants to build the 19.5km dual carriageway road from the A47 at Postwick in the east of the city to the A1067 Fakenham Road to the northwest.

The government has agreed to contribute £86.5m towards the cost and has said the scheme is of “national significance”, which has fast-tracked it through the planning system.

Planning inspector Elizabeth Hill had been due to weigh up the evidence during a number of hearings this summer, before making a recommendation to the secretary of state on whether to grant a development consent order.

But communities secretary Eric Pickles is deciding whether she should be the sole examining authority.

Mrs Hill said: “The secretary of state is considering whether this application should now be handled by a panel of examining inspectors, bearing in mind the complexity of the case and the level of public interest in the outcome.”

Until such a decision is made, Mrs Hill said she would not publish a timetable for the examination.

The road has met opposition from Friends of the Earth, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Stop Norfolk Urbanisation (SNUB) and the Green Party, who say it will increase congestion and lead to swathes of the countryside being concreted over. But Norfolk County Council says it will bring a huge economic boost and improvements, such as a rapid bus transit in Norwich.

What do you think of the NDR? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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