Western Link 'wrong policy for the wrong time'

Norwich City Council votes against the Norwich Western Link

Norwich City Council votes against the Norwich Western Link - Credit: Archant

City councillors have voted to reject plans for the Norwich Western Link.

Cabinet members at Norwich City Council discussed whether they should endorse the Transport for Norwich Strategy (TNS) - a county council blueprint for the future in the city area, which includes the Norwich Western Link (NWL).

The £198m road would connect the Northern Distributor Road to the A47 to the west of Norwich. 

Mike Stonard, cabinet member for inclusive and sustainable growth, said the road fails on several grounds to get their support.

The completion and opening of Norwich City Council’s new Rose Lane multi-storey car park in Mounterg

Mike Stonard, Norwich City Council cabinet member for sustainable development. - Credit: Steve Adams

These include concerns that it will not do enough to improve air quality and decongestion in the city; fears that the scheme's environmental impacts cannot be mitigated; and that there is not enough investment in public transport, cycling and walking in line with funding for the NWL.

Mr Stonard was also damming of the TNS saying there were 'serious deficiencies' with some reasonable requests ignored.

He said: “There was no acceptance that the road network should prioritise modes that use the least energy and that promote the most healthy activity. 

“No recognition that building and expanding roads fuels traffic growth and carbon-based patterns of development. 

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“If you’re going to build the Western Link, which is going to fuel traffic growth, are you going to do anything to create more sustainable modes of transport elsewhere and the answer from the county council is a resounding ‘no’.” 

Proposed route of the Norwich Western Link 

Proposed route of the Norwich Western Link - Credit: Norfolk County Council

He also criticised the county council for spending around five times more on roads than on sustainable transport.

He added: “This has got to be the wrong policy for the wrong time.” 

Lucy Galvin, leader of the Green group at City Hall praised Mr Stonard's comments, saying she wanted to "punch the air" but questioned if the cabinet would write to the Department of Transport calling for them to reject the plan.

The cabinet member said the administration would be discussing the next steps soon.

Mr Stonard and deputy council leader Gail Harris criticised the lack of a city voice in transport policy.

Ms Harris said that a decision to take away the city council's power to look after its roads had been a "retrograde step".

The cabinet voted to acknowledge the progress towards more sustainable transport in the city but that the strategy was not sufficiently ambitious and that it could not support the NWL link proposal. 

The authority will continue a “productive working relationship” with County Hall on the strategy with a view to increasing ambitions in the future. 

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