Feasibility study given the go-ahead for Northern Distributor Road

Countryside near Weston Longville where the Northern Distributor Road was proposed to cut through in

Countryside near Weston Longville where the Northern Distributor Road was proposed to cut through in early design proposals. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Norfolk county councillors have approved proposals to commission a report into the feasibility of completing the planned Norwich northern distributor road.

The Liberal Democrat member for Costessey, Tim East, put forward the motion calling for the study at Norfolk's full council meeting yesterday.

He said: 'Millions of pounds of public money has already been approved and granted to Norfolk County Council for the construction of the NDR from Postwick to Taverham and we believe that this planned road will bring enormous economic benefits to Norfolk.

'It is imperative to at least commission a feasibility report on evaluating and assessing the viability of a complete NDR now, even if it's merely just to resurrect and upgrade the existing old plans which were submitted for consultation at the turn of this century.'

The current plan is for a 19.5km dual carriageway to be built from the A47 at Postwick, at the east of the city, to the A1067 Fakenham road, at the north-west.

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The scheme was awarded £86.5m from the government but because the River Wensum is a special area of conservation, initial plans to connect to the A47 on the west side of Norwich were not acted upon because of the costs involved in avoiding a detrimental impact.

Mr East said he believed a 'full and complete' NDR would be the 'only sensible way forward' and could be made possible by building a viaduct across the River Wensum.

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He added that funds could be obtained through the introduction of shadow tolling – a contractual payment made by a government, per driver, using a road to am operating private company. Shadow toll fees are paid directly to the company without intervention or direct payment from the users.

He added: 'The proposed three-quarters NDR, which presently terminates at the Fakenham road in the Taverham area, will only exacerbate this long-standing rat-run problem.'

Cabinet member Mick Castle feared that the motion was ill-timed and that carrying out a feasibility study would jeopardise future plans.

He said: 'This is a dangerous one for the council.'

But Mr East argued that this was 'patent nonsense'.

'We are 'too far down the road', excuse the pun, for the three-quarter NDR planning proposal to be endangered,' he added. 'The old adage that there is 'no time like the present', is apposite.

'The start of construction of the three-quarters NDR could be at least five years away.'

The motion was carried by 58 members to 15.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr East said, 'To complete the missing link over the Wensum Valley has been my long-term aspiration for 16 years. I'm absolutely delighted.'

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