Homes plans reawakens Long Stratton bypass scheme
A LONG-awaited Long Stratton bypass has moved a step closer after the approval of a planning blueprint, which will more than double the size of the village.
A development-funded relief road has been touted as the only realistic way of addressing the long-running congestion problems on the A140 between Diss and Norwich.
That became more of a reality on Tuesday night when a planning document for the Greater Norwich area – the Joint Core Strategy – was adopted at South Norfolk Council, which will result in around 10,000 new homes in the district up until 2026.
However, village leaders have spoken of their opposition over proposals for 1,800 new homes in Long Stratton over the next 15 years, which would fund the road scheme. Residents have been campaigning for a bypass for more than 60 years and a �35m project looked dead in the water last year when planning permission expired.
But Andrew Lansdell, chairman of Long Stratton Parish Council, said he was concerned that a new shorter single-carriageway scheme closer to the village was being drawn up, which would do little to solve congestion and road safety issues.
'We do not want 1,800 new homes with an inferior bypass. We feel it is too much. We feel that it is worth waiting another two or three or five years to get a proper dual carriageway bypass. We accept that there is no money in the public purse at the moment, but we are told that the current government is planning to get rid of the deficit in four years and after that there may be money for capital schemes,' he said.
Alison Thomas, councillor for Long Stratton, said it was a 'difficult trade-off', but even a single carriageway bypass would help improve the safety, health and the quality of life for residents.
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'Everyone would like to see a dual carriageway gold plated bypass, but we have to be realistic in the current economic climate and that is not what we may get. If we say no to a less desirable bypass, what message does that send to central government? Taking a decision to wait a few years may mean we wait another 20 or 30 years,' she said.
David Thornton, of the Long Stratton bypass campaign group, which has not been active for four years, said he had concerns about a 'watered down' scheme, which would not stretch as far as the Hempnall crossroads.
'Any developer will build the cheapest thing they can get away with and we might have a poorly constructed road that might not do the job. It would be my concern that a relief road will only take a small amount of traffic out of the village,' he said.
John Fuller, South Norfolk Council leader, said the strategy for the Greater Norwich area had enshrined the spaces between the district's market towns and villages and a bypass was a precondition of the expansion plans for Long Stratton.
But Murray Gray, leader of the South Norfolk Liberal Democrat group, said the plans represented a 'leap in the dark' and there were a lot of unanswered questions on infrastructure funding and the location of the houses. He added that he had seen no financial figures over whether 1,800 new homes in Long Stratton could fund a bypass.