£19m shake-up for Norwich A47 junction gets government green light

Aerial picture of the proposed site of the Postwick hub. Photo: Mike Page

Aerial picture of the proposed site of the Postwick hub. Photo: Mike Page - Credit: Archant

The government has given the green light to a £19m junction scheme on the outskirts of Norwich - changes which are crucial to the planned Norwich Northern Distributor Road.

It was announced today that work can start on the Postwick junction to the east of the city, after two secretaries of state rubber-stamped orders which will transform the way drivers join and leave the A47.

A number of slip roads will be closed on and off the A47, to be replaced by new roads and roundabouts. It will also serve the proposed Broadland Gate business park, which developers say could create up to 3,000 jobs.

Council leaders have hailed the decision, following a 129-page report by a planning inspector, as an immediate shot in the arm for the Norfolk economy, saying it will enable a new business park and new homes to be built.

They say a lack of current capacity at the junction has prevented housing development and business expansion plans going ahead.

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But the news will be a blow for campaigners who argued against it at a public inquiry held in the summer. Almost 125 people had objected against the scheme, saying it was over-engineered, a waste of money, would cause traffic problems and would lead to communities nearby being swamped with homes.

Planning permission for the junction changes - to create what is known as the Postwick hub - was previously granted by Broadland District Council, but the side road and slip road legal orders needed approval before work could start.

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David Harrison, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for environment, transport, development and waste, said: 'This is great news for jobs, housing and the Greater Norwich economy. We will now be moving as quickly as possible to start on site, and I expect that developers whose planning permission depends upon the junction improvement will soon be doing the same.'

But campaigners will be disappointed with the announcement. Stephen Heard, spokesman for Stop Norwich Urbanisation and a parish councillor for Salhouse, said at the public inquiry that the scheme was part of 'a headlong rush for development against the needs of society to act responsibly as stewards of the environment for our grandchildren and their children.'

The inspector has requested a number of relatively minor modifications to the order,One modification is that the existing eastbound diverge slip road would remain open to cyclists and pedestrians through the creation of a shared-use path along its length.

The inspector said: 'Cyclists and pedestrians currently use the service path over the A47 Viaduct and this proposed shared-use facility would enable cyclists to continue to use the existing A47 eastbound diverge slip road to connect with the existing and proposed cycle network at the Postwick north-west roundabout.'

Government funding for the Postwick Hub has been available since 2009 when £21m was allocated from the Community Infrastructure Fund. The hub scheme includes expansion of the Park & Ride site at Postwick.

The scheme was reviewed by the coalition government and £19m in funding for the junction was confirmed as part of the £86.5m allocation for Norwich Northern Distributor Road.

The junction will serve as the gateway to the NDR - the £148.5m road which will stretch from Postwick in the east to the A1067 at Fakenham Road in the west.

The NDR is subject to a separate application. The Planning Inspectorate will consider that as part of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project development approval process and the submission was made by the county council this week.

Whether the 19.5km scheme goes ahead depends upon a development consent order being granted and this will be the subject of a public inquiry later this year.

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