Hotel plan sparks A11 plea

A major scheme for a hotel, car showrooms and fast food restaurant near one of the region's busiest roundabouts has prompted calls for long-awaited road improvements to be given more urgency.

A major scheme for a hotel, car showrooms and fast food restaurant near one of the region's busiest roundabouts has prompted calls for long-awaited road improvements to be given more urgency.

Campaigners are hoping their 20-year campaign - to have the A11 between Barton Mills/Fiveways and Thetford dualled as well as a flyover built at the junction itself - will be taken more seriously if the expansion plans go ahead.

And they say the fact that private enterprise is looking to invest so heavily in the area should send a clear message to the government that the area is growing rapidly and the current inadequate infrastructure needs a massive overhaul sooner rather than later.

Forest Heath District Council last week received an application for the major development on land to the north-west of Fiveways at Barton Mills. The plans include a petrol station, car rental business, McDonalds restaurant, 61-bedroom hotel and five car showrooms.

West Suffolk MP Richard Spring, who has made upgrading the last surviving stretch of single carriageway A11 and improvements to Fiveways a personal crusade, welcomed the plans.

“It makes the case for dualling the A11 grow even more powerful every day. There is a real commitment among MPs in the eastern region to get this road built and we're all doing everything we can. This is a growth area and this is a very important arterial route both to Suffolk and Norfolk.”

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Rona Burt, Forest Heath councillor for Tuddenham, said she had not yet seen the plans but stressed the need for improvements as the volume of traffic using Fiveways was rapidly increasing.

“It's getting nearly as bad as Spaghetti Junction and it really does need a flyover or something. The A11 here is a terrible road at the moment,” she said.

Last month, politicians, business leaders and transport officials spoke of their optimism after it emerged that the dualling of the A11 between Thetford and Barton Mills could start in 2010, two years earlier than expected.

The Department of Transport authorised the Highways Agency to press ahead with the two-year statutory process, which will pave the way for the £101m scheme.

The seven-mile dualling project is currently budgeted for until at least 2011-12.

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