Mixture of joy, relief and scepticism over Long Stratton bypass announcement
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
For residents who have waited for so many years, the news that their village will finally get a multi-million pound new bypass was met with a mixture of relief and joy.
Traffic along the A140 through Long Stratton has got steadily worse over the past five decades, as increasing numbers of cars make their way to and from Norwich.
Just this week, temporary traffic lights caused long tailbacks and in previous weeks a broken down bus caused 30min delays.
Now, two planning applications from Norfolk Homes Ltd and Norfolk Land Ltd have been submitted to South Norfolk Council (SNC), which propose the building of 1,875 new homes and could unlock the Long Stratton bypass.
The scheme for land to the east and west of the A140 includes a £5m western relief road, a new roundabout and a £3.5m primary school.
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The news was hailed as by SNC leader John Fuller as the closest the village has ever been to its dream goal.
'People have been campaigning for a bypass for 70 years,' he said.
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'I think 70 years is a long time. It's a lifetime.
'I think the key thing now is that we get a bypass - not a link road and not an escape road.
'It's not just exciting news for Long Stratton. It's exciting for South Norfolk and it's the right thing for Norfolk and Suffolk.'
A planning statement from Norfolk Homes added: 'The bypass will remove some 70pc to 85pc of traffic from Long Stratton in the morning peak hour and 60pc to 75pc in the evening peak hour.
'Overall this equates to around 13,000 vehicles per day.'
But others said they have waited so long for a bypass, they will remain sceptical until they see building work start on the road.
Former lorry driver Keith Jones, who has lived in the village for 14 years, said: 'They promised we were going to have bypass for some 50 years.
'I'll take the news with a pinch of salt and when I can drive on it, I'll believe it.'
Barbara Cattermole, who has lived in Tharston, two miles east of Long Stratton, for 40 years, said: 'I can't quite believe it – and I don't think anybody's going to believe it until the first earth is dug.
'We've been waiting and waiting, and I am sceptical because we've had all of this before.'
Mrs Cattermole also raised concerns about the amount of housing the area and the additional pressures on schools and doctors surgeries.
Those were concerns shared by Linda Eastaff and Angela Baldwin, who have each lived in the area for more than 35 years.
Ms Eastaff said: 'You cannot get a doctor's appointment at the moment and the schools are full.
'I really do feel that they need to think about the infrastructure. They cannot just have a bypass and 1,800 new homes without more facilities.'
Businesses in the town have viewed the news with the same hesitation.
Ray Gale, owner of Around the Pound - an independent shop in the village - said a bypass was long overdue.
However he added: 'I do think that if they are going to build more housing they need to think about how the schools will cope.
Heather Green, manager at The Tudor Bakehouse, in The Street, said the news was a double-edged sword.
'It will be good for the village because it will be quieter and there won't be so much traffic and pollution,' she said.
'We've been here before. About 60 years ago it was so close to happening, so I don't know if we'll get here this time. Watch this space.'
According to a planning statement from Norfolk Homes, more than 150 hectares of land which 'wraps around' the east, north and west of the village could be used.
Around 29pc of the new homes are expected to be affordable and around 70 hectares of new public open space would be created.