Special investigation: Average speed on Norwich Northern Distributor Road will be 57mph

Members of the public study plans for the NDR. Picture: Denise Bradley Members of the public study plans for the NDR. Picture: Denise Bradley

Friday, December 20, 2013
9:50 AM

Almost £14m has been spent on the Norwich Northern Distributor Road, before the hugely controversial route has secured planning permission.

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And the estimated average speed on the 19.5km road, which will stretch from the A47 at Postwick to the A1067 Fakenham Road if it does get built, will be 57mph.

That is 11mph lower than the average speed on the UK’s dual carriageways, which is 68mph.

If people think the incinerator project has dragged on for a while, that’s nothing compared to the tortuous route which the northern distributor road has taken so far.

On and off the drawing board for decades, the £148.5m road scheme has long gestated.

But, Norfolk County Council finally appears to be on the brink of getting a road which it says is “essential” for the economic development of the county.

The road has been designated by the government as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, which will speed up its process through the planning system.

It has £86.5m of money promised by the government and a commitment by the county council to find the rest of the funding. However, for some, this project remains only half the scheme it should be. The road, as originally envisaged, connected to the A47 to the west of the city. The current plan only goes as far as the A1067.

And that, according to some of its critics, makes it a road to nowhere, which will cause more traffic problems than it solves. Tim East, (pictured below), Liberal Democrat county councillor for Costessey and his party’s spokesman for planning, transportation and environment, said: “I’m not surprised by the average estimated speed of 57mph, because there are so many roads coming off it and so many roundabouts. It is going to exacerbate existing traffic issues.”

While the county council says traffic modelling shows the three key routes between Taverham and Costessey (Costessey Lane, Taverham Road and Ringland Road) will not be “adversely affected”, Mr East disagrees.

He said: “That’s nonsense. They said of the southern bypass that it would reduce traffic coming through Costessey, but our traffic surveys showed it went up 300pc.”

The council says that, while not part of the NDR application, the council’s cabinet had approved some traffic calming in West End, Costessey and improvements to better enforce weight restrictions on existing river bridges between Costessey/Ringland and Taverham/Drayton.

Mr East has been pushing for a feasibility study to look again at connecting the road to the A47 to the west of Norwich. In November, the council’s cabinet agreed to do so “as soon as resources allow”, but with the “key resources” focused on getting the rest of the road built first.

The council said: “At this time, the position has not changed and the resource currently remains focused on delivering the development consent order application from the NDR project from Postwick to the A1067. No work has therefore been possible so far on the feasibility study.”

Mr East said: “I would hope that within the next six months a study has been initiated.

“I know they have got £2.5m in reserve for the road, so surely some of that could be used for the feasibility study?”

However, the county council, where officers visibly shudder if you describe the road as a bypass, insist the road, even in its shortened form, makes sense.

The council says: “The NDR will greatly improve access to Norwich International Airport and provide much needed transport infrastructure to allow planned and proposed growth to be progressed in a sustainable way.

“Access to North Norfolk from Norwich, and vice versa, the A47 and the the A11, will significantly improve as a result of the implementation of the NDR.

“The NDR will reduce traffic flows on the northern radial routes and the northern section of the outer ring road and reduce city centre through traffic.

“The NDR will also significantly reduce the rat-running currently experienced on unsuitable residential suburban roads and nearby country lanes.

“This will also bring opportunities for improving the provision for public transport and cyclists as part of the implementation of the Norwich Area Transport Strategy, making these trips safer for vulnerable road users.”

The council, in 2005, said it was committed to pursue a “separate scheme” to address “existing local problems” between Hockering and Lenwade and the final stage of that is expected to be completed by April next year.

Over the past decade, the council revealed, £13.77m has been spent on the NDR, even though it has yet to obtain planning permission.

But council leader George Nobbs defended that spending. He said: “Whatever we have spent, I believe that it will prove very good value for money for the Norfolk economy.

“I believe, as do the three mainstream parties in Norfolk, that the NDR is essential to the future of Norfolk’s economy and that is one of our top priorities.”

The Green Party, however, are long-standing opponents of the NDR and have criticised the process which has been followed so far.

Denise Carlo, (pictured), a Green Norwich city councillor and spokesman for the Norwich and Norfolk Transport Action group, said: “The county council has ridden roughshod over the public and, at times, there has been abuse of process.”

One example of that, she said, was the county council’s involvement with Ifield estates on the Broadland Gate development, which forms a key part of the Postwick Hub scheme.

That scheme, which has been going through its own legal process, is, effectively, the point at which the NDR meets the A47 to the east of Norwich.

And she also pointed to how the Department for Transport had blocked the council’s attempt to award the contract to build the road to its strategic partner May Gurney – which forced the council to go out for tender.

She said: “If built, the NDR will lead to a third ring of development around Norwich on a scale never seen before.

“Already 10,000 dwellings and three new business/industrial parks are planned for north east Norwich and that is just the start.

“If the NDR is built, the entire swathe of countryside between Norwich and the NDR would be developed and villages beyond the NDR would expand.

“The NDR would create the Norwich version of the M25 – the N25, especially if Norfolk County Council succeeds in taking the NDR across the Wensum Valley.”

She added that she believed the average speed would be lower than 57mph, given the large number of roundabouts on the route.

However, the road, which the county council says could lead to £1.3bn of economic benefits for Norfolk, has been supported by the business community.

Aviva said the road would be particularly beneficial to the 2,000 staff who work at Broadland Business Park, while Norwich International Airport says it can help attract world class businesses to the area.

ON THE RADAR

Taxpayers will have to pay £1.3m in compensation to Norwich International Airport (NIA) if the Northern Distributor Road is built – because the airport’s current radar system would get confused by the cars on the road.

A problem is that the traffic on the £148.5m road would show up on the airport’s radar system, interfering with the safe arrival and departure of planes from it.

Norfolk County Council’s controlling Labour/Liberal Democrat cabinet agreed earlier this year to agree a solution – which would see the council contribute £1.3m over eight years towards a replacement system.

The council would provide the financing for the total cost of the radar replacement, with the airport paying back 12/20 of the total £3m cost to the council. And it is not just the airport which will be affected by the road, with 355 hectares of land identified as needed to build it. The council expects it will have to spend £15m to buy up that land, which is included in the overall cost of the road.

The authority says land will have to be taken from nine homes, but say only an already derelict property and a building with planning consent for conversion to a residential dwelling will have to be demolished.

Discussions with affected landowners have been ongoing for many years and some affected land and buildings have already been acquired.

The council has also had one Blight Notice (where the value of the property was likely to be reduced by the road) connected to the scheme. The council accepted and bought the property. Another is likely to be served.

The council has also received one discretionary purchase request, which it is currently considering.

Some other properties affected by the scheme have been acquired in agreement with the landowners.

A LONG-RUNNING SAGA

It was back in 2003 that the idea for what was described as a ‘relief road’ was officially dusted down and put back on the table, about a decade after it was originally mooted.

At that point a number of routes were being considered, including joining up with the A47 at the west of the city, with a prediction that work could start in 2006.

But the hopes of a complete link were dashed, due to the River Wensum being a Special Area of Conservation. It was concluded that there was no practical way to cross the Wensum Valley without having an effect on that area.

So the planned route which was settled on by the council was from the A47 in the east to the A140 at Norwich International Airport.

The government has allocated £86.5m for that stretch of the road, but the county council is committed to also building the section of the road which will go from the A140 to the A1067 Fakenham Road, even if that means underwriting the costs. The council will also look to contributions from developers of housing to pay for the road, in the form of the new community infrastructure levy.

32 comments

  • PETER WATSON - yours is one of the best, and most relevant comments on here. All the big public organisations, such as national government, county councils, Network Rail, the NHS etc etc are all on the one hand spending BILLIONS on grandiose projects, while on the other hand pleading poverty and failing to properly maintain their existing assets.

    Report this comment

    Norfolk and Good

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • The latest real proposal is for the road to built only between the A140 Cromer Road and the A47 to the east. There are numerous roundabouts so achieving an average of 57mph will simply not be possible. Even if accelerating hard with all the resultant increase in pollution it is not possible unless there is no other traffic.

    Report this comment

    andy

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • You have to remember this is a City and a growing one at that, this road and others will be needed if it's to continue although it's been held back for many years. We've had very little in the way of infrastructure upgrades in this county, the duelling of the A11 has taken some 40 years in which time the whole of the M25 has been built, widened and had a new bridge built at Dartford. Reading some of the comment on hear it seems the “big city small town attitude” is still alive, that is what holds us back, the council still think we are a bunch of country bumpkins so everyone else outside does to. We have to fight for more investment in our roads, rail, and then we might see more money coming for coastal protection, London has it’s barrier which was also built and completed whilst we have been waiting for the duelling of the A11. If that brings overpaid Londoners here for the weekend, let them come, let them spend their money here.

    Report this comment

    parkeg1

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • These idiotic clowns who state that Ringland Lane, Costessey Lane and Taverham Lane will not be affected must be looking at the wrong roads. The roads are very narrow twisty rural roads made by the passage of horse drawn transport from the 19th. century and are already used as a rat run to lead traffic up through Longwater Lane to the A47 and Norwich. Living here 44 years I have seen the increase so that between 7am and 9am it is gridlock with much turning off to run through the side roads which in turn clogs even more access points. No one has yet to supply an answer as to where and which direction the traffic will go on leaving the NDR!

    Report this comment

    blackdog2

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • Link NDR to A1074 if it can be done. No roundabout just under passes like in France.This keeps up good speed. no snarl ups. Link west to east.can it be done yes or no? If not ditch it,No s--- Sherlock.

    Report this comment

    PaulH

    Monday, December 23, 2013

  • And where is Lord Simpson Lucan the MP that told all his electorate that he would not entertain an incomplete NDR? perhaps just reading a history book, hoping for a Knighthood, how productive.

    Report this comment

    Marigold

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • parkeg1, there is nothing wrong with being a "country bumpkin" as you put it, and neither is there anything wrong with having a "small town mentality", because what you are advocating is ruining the very reason that people love coming to Norfolk. Just remember, it is not everyones aim in life to be "metroman", or woman. And progress does not necessarily come in the form of urban sprawl.

    Report this comment

    Mr T

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • Mr T I agreed, there is nothing wrong with being a country bumpkin, but I'm refering to the City of Norwich, not the county of Norfolk. The City will grow, like it or not but it's what cities do, so we need a city council who will do the best for the city and not try to dictate, control and stiffle growth as they have for many years.

    Report this comment

    parkeg1

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • I had hoped the speed would have been faster then 57mph, it would be anywhere else in the country but you have to add in the Norfolk effect. If this road to nowhere is going to be built I wish they could just get on with it and stop all these money wasting reports.

    Report this comment

    parkeg1

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • This is doomed to fail from the beginning!

    Report this comment

    HappisburghHarry

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • This is Adrian Gunsons legacy and if you think the properties are for rich Londoners then you best smell the coffee. From memory (please correct me) the very first questionnaire to poll for this road only received a 6.9% return and only 57% of those responded with a yes to pre-loaded questions which mentioned nothing about housing and development of the scale being proposed. Since then there has been not one clear and concise vote offered to the electorate for this road, just driven entirely by NCC and once again their lack of common sense.

    Report this comment

    Marigold

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • A single average figure for a 12 mile long stretch of road that is available 24 hours a day is too vague as to be useful. Assuming the "average" meant is the mean speed (as opposed to the median or mode averages) is that averaged across peak and off-peak? Is it the highest value achieved or the worst at any given point. Does the value take into account that HGVs etc are limited to lower speeds. And in making comparisons - is it being compared with a piece of road with equal number of junctions?

    Report this comment

    G_of_Norwich

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • It's funny how people's names connect them to the jobs they do. Mr East is pushing for the NDR to be connected to the West, and the guy in charge of the people who designed the NDR is called Nobbs!

    Report this comment

    Wisbech, CAPITAL of the Fens

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • The only reason the national average is 68mph is that many people drive faster than the 70mph limit - the average wouldn't be anywhere near that otherwise. Planners are hardly likely to announce that they expect 75% of drivers to break the law, are they? 57mph is assuming people stick below the limit - which they won't.

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    Only Me

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • So it would take a huge amount of extra time to negotiate those twelve or so miles.Perhaps as much as two minutes.People really don't have that much time to spare.Just cancel the whole project and come up with something more feasible.Like personal jet packs or guided lanes for Formula 1 cars.

    Report this comment

    Nexus_6

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • It amuses me that those who drone on about the uniqueness of Norfolk are the very same people who demand the dualling of the A11 and the building of the NDR - both of which will only serve to encourage even more overpaid Londoners to zoom up here at weekends in their overpowered cars and buy up the last remaining houses still in the hands of locals.

    Report this comment

    arfur

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • Spot on comment arfur, please sent it to Mr Nobbs and his minions in County Hall. Though you know as well as I do, that the north of Norwich is going to get this environmental sledgehammer whether the people of Norwich want it or not, because business does want it, now there's a supprise. This farce reminds me of that Joni Mitchell song, Big yellow Taxi. "Dont it always seem to go, that you dont know what youve got till its gone, they paved paradise, and put up a parking lot"

    Report this comment

    Mr T

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • 57mph, you'll be lucky to get 37 mph once the 37000 houses get built, unless you decide to travel at 3am.

    Report this comment

    Norfolk25

    Tuesday, December 24, 2013

  • I wish you were right, but I am afraid your not, what you are forgetting is, this isnt just about the NDR, thereal payday for developers is going to coome from the infill afterwards, which will generate enough traffic for them to justify this scheme, and the continued ruination of the countryside

    Report this comment

    Mr T

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • Meanwhile on the existing road network the amount to be spent on highway maintenance is to be cut,leading,after a few sharp frosts,only to bigger potholes and more of them.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • I wish you were right, but I am afraid your not, what you are forgetting is, this isnt just about the NDR, thereal payday for developers is going to coome from the infill afterwards, which will generate enough traffic for them to justify this scheme, and the continued ruination of the countryside

    Report this comment

    Mr T

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • Just another heap of rubbish from the Numpties at County Hall.

    Report this comment

    beverley

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • 'Tis the Panto season - Aladdin and the NDR. 57mph has to be at least the speed we get on the A47 between Swaffham and Lynn on most days.

    Report this comment

    Tractorboy

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • This dead end road is an absolute farce and is being driven by a government who are funded by developers. 'Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project' make me laugh, significant for whom?

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • Just what is wrong with an average speed of 57 mph? probably have trouble doing that on the M.1 most days. Stop waffling and just build it.

    Report this comment

    Mr T

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • The average speed will be as fast as the average traffic will allow, should this badly designed and funded road ever go ahead. Where will the new hospital go? will it be another trouser busting PFI for Osborne's bankers?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • Who cares what the average speed is, it should be 70mph but just get on and BUILD IT!

    Report this comment

    Norfolk John

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • Just get on and build it please and stop all these consultations that serve no purpose.

    Report this comment

    KeithS

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • So it would take a huge amount of extra time to negotiate those twelve or so miles.Perhaps as much as two minutes.People really don't have that much time to spare.Just cancel the whole project and come up with something more feasible.Like personal jet packs or guided lanes for Formula 1 cars.

    Report this comment

    Nexus_6

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • So they are going to put additional 'traffic calming' in Costessey and Taverham are they? What will that do? After they put this in The Street at Costessey, it has increased my fuel consumption, the time it takes me to get to work and back by in the morning over 5 minutes and in the evening by over 15 minutes (usually) plus I get tailgated because I stick to the speed limit. Why? Because everyone uses it as a cut through to the A47 so what will happen after the NDR? Yet more traffic making the residents life hell to get to the North of the city from the west of the city. Wake up NCC and LISTEN to those it will affect. Looks like another incinerator saga.....

    Report this comment

    Drayton Resident

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • That's quicker than cars travel on the current Ring Road so get on and build it asap.

    Report this comment

    Bruce87

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • One further point, according to NCC own figures, the volume of traffic on all roads into Norwich, with the exception of the Plumstead Road, is expected to stay the same or decrease after the NDR is built and after all the housebuilding has been completed. Can anyone explain how this can be the case? Where will the inhabitants of those 10,000 homes work and shop? If not in Norwich why build the houses there? What restrictions on private vehicles will there be to accommodate the so called Rapid Transport System getting in to Norwich?

    Report this comment

    andy

    Friday, December 20, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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