Decision on Norwich Northern Distributor Road could be made within a year
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2013
A decision on whether to allow the controversial Norwich Northern Distributor Road to go ahead could be made within 12 months, the planning inspectorate has revealed.
Norfolk County Council wants to build the £148.5m, 19.5km dual carriageway road from the A47 at Postwick to the east of the city to the A1067 Fakenham Road to the northwest.
The government has agreed to contribute £86.5m towards the cost and has said the scheme is of 'national significance', which has fast-tracked it through the planning system.
That means the Planning Inspectorate will weigh up evidence before making a recommendation on whether to grant a development consent order.
Today, the Planning Inspectorate held a drop-in event at Dragon Hall in Norwich, where they offered advice to people who want to have their say over the scheme.
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And Nicholas Coombes, from the Planning Inspectorate said a decision on whether to grant the order for the road could be made at about this time next year.
He said, after a six-month examination period, which is likely to start in May or June and run until October or November, the examining authority, which could be one inspector or a panel of inspectors, would have three months to make a recommendation.
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Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin will then have three months to consider their recommendation and make a final decision.
Mr Coombes said: 'We might expect a final decision about a year from now - possibly February or March next year.'
But he added: 'The secretary of state is able to award himself an extension of time if he wants to.'
The audience at Dragon Hall heard that the process for the examination of the scheme will mainly be dealt with through written submissions.
But there are likely to be public hearings on specific issues and 'interested parties' can request what are known as open floor hearings to air their concerns.
Norwich city councillor Denise Carlo, from the Norwich and Norfolk Transport Action Group said she was concerned about the inquiry relying so much on written documentation, after campaigners accused the county council of 'losing' their submissions at an earlier stage and not submitting them to the Planning Inspectorate.
Mr Coombes said people would know their submissions had been received because they would be published on the Planning Inspectorate project website.
The council says the NDR will bring a huge economic boost and connected improvements, such as a rapid bus transit in Norwich.
But critics say it will lead to rat-running and say the homes which will spring up around it will concrete over swathes of the countryside.
People can register as interested parties at http://infrastructure.planningportal.gov.uk/projects/eastern/norwich -northern-distributor-road-ndr/
In September last year, county councillors fixed a start date for work to begin on the controversial northern distributor route round Norwich - even though the road has yet to get permission.
The council's environment, transport and development overview and scrutiny panel said work would start on or before April 1, 2015, with the road open to the public in 2017.
• What do you think of the NDR? Write, including full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.