The search has begun for the company which will build the long-awaited Long Stratton bypass.

Permission for the two-and-a-half-mile bypass for the south Norfolk town was granted by district councillors last month.

And Norfolk County Council has now started the process of tendering a £30m contract to build the road.

It has invited construction companies to bid for the contract to construct the route over an 18-month period, with work due to start next year.

In 2021, the Department for Transport pledged £26.2m towards the then £37.4m cost of the A140 single-carriageway bypass.

But delays to the project, coupled with inflation and the war in Ukraine pushing up construction costs, means the bill for the road has gone up to £46.2m.

The council will have to find ways to plug that funding gap, which is likely to include borrowing and contributions from developers.

South Norfolk Council's development committee recently unanimously approved the road scheme, along with connected plans to build 1,875 homes and a new school.

Eastern Daily Press: District and county councillor Alison ThomasDistrict and county councillor Alison Thomas (Image: Archant)

Alison Thomas, a county and district councillor for Long Stratton, told the development committee she had campaigned for the road since 1995.

She said: "Discussion around a bypass first started around 1930, so let's hope we can get it done before we reach 100 years."

READ MORE: Norwich Western Link key decision delayed due to uncertainty

David Allfrey, a senior official at Norfolk County Council, said the road was essential to addressing regular congestion in the town.

He said: "This supports housing growth but it is also resolving those delays that people experience on a daily basis, bringing economic growth and an economic benefit."

The would-be builders of the road have been given until April 28 to get their expressions of interest in.

Four of the bidders would make it through to a shortlist in May, with the winning bid then selected.