Inspectors to question proposed £148.5m Norwich Northern Distributor Road’s ‘missing link’
06:30 03 September 2014
A panel of inspectors which will decide if the controversial £148.5m Norwich Northern Distributor Road should be recommended to go ahead returns for more public hearings later this month.
And one of the key questions inspectors are posing is whether the 20km road could eventually connect with the A47 to the west of the city - with the absence of such a link long having been a criticism levelled at the scheme.
The council wants to build the road from the A47 at Postwick in the east of the city to the A1067 Fakenham Road to the north-west and has secured £86.5m from the government for it.
But, for it to go ahead, it needs planning consent from the Secretary of State. A recommendation on whether that consent should be given will be made by a panel of three inspectors.
They held a number of open hearings in July, but the bulk of their inspection involves written evidence being submitted by the county council and those in favour and against the road.
When the road was first proposed, it did link to the A47 to the west of the city, but that notion was dropped. The council said that was because an environmentally acceptable and affordable way of crossing the Wensum valley could not be found.
However, the council has agreed to carry out a feasibility study looking into whether a link could be provided in the future and the inspectors are seeking an explanation as to why that study has not been set in hand.
They have also asked the council to confirm that, if it were built as far as the A1067, with a roundabout at Deighton Hills and Fir Covert Road, if it would be possible to consider construction of the western link in the future.
The issue of the ‘missing link’ is likely to form a key part in the latest round of public hearings.
The hearings will take place in the Assembly House in Theatre Street. The first two will take place on Tuesday, September 16 and Wednesday, September 17 from 10am until 6pm.
The third - where the link to the A47 in the west will be discussed - will take place from 10am until 4pm and the fourth from 10am until 2pm.
Norfolk County Council says the road will bring an economic boost to the county, create jobs and ease congestion but critics say it will see swathes of countryside concreted over and encourage even more people to use cars.
• What’s your view on the road? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.