Norwich’s Northern Distributor Road scheme on brink of being lodged

Members of the public study the latest plans for the NDR. Picture: Denise Bradley

Members of the public study the latest plans for the NDR. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2013

The plan for the controversial Norwich Northern Distributor road looks likely to be lodged within the next month.

And county councillors have insisted that, unlike the contract over the proposed incinerator at King's Lynn, the council will not face any compensation from contractors if the road does not go ahead.

The county council's controlling cabinet agreed this week that it was 'content' for officers to submit a development consent order for the finalised scheme for the £148.5m road.

The current plan is for a 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 that road and has said the scheme is of 'national significance'.

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That proposal was adopted by the county council in September 2005 and came about after a number of routes were considered back in the early 2000s.

While the initial goal was to link to the A47 in the west, those routes all ended up being rejected. However, recent calls have led to a feasibility study being ordered into whether such a link could be added.

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The proposed road has caused controversy. The council says it will bring a huge economic boost and connected improvements, such as a rapid bus transit, will benefit Norwich, while many businesses have backed it.

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: 'The NDR is absolutely essential and any business will tell you that it is essential.'

But critics say it will lead to rat-running and homes which will spring up around it will concrete over swathes of the countryside.

Andrew Boswell, Green county councillor for Nelson division, had asked how the council could underwrite the £50m to £60m funding gap for the road, given the council's interim head of finance, had warned finding £25m to compensate Cory Wheelabrator if the authority pulled out of the incinerator would leave the council on the brink of not being able to set a budget.

David Harrison, cabinet member for environment, transport, development and waste, replied that: 'Norfolk's commitment is profiled over a number of years and is supported by Community Infrastructure Levy as developments are delivered.

'The cost of borrowing is factored into the authority's medium term financial plans.'

In response to another question from Mr Boswell over if there were compensation clauses in the contract with Birse Civils to build the road, Mr Harrison said there were 'no penalties if the scheme does not proceed'.

The road is to be fast-tracked through the planning process, after it was designated as a scheme of national significance by the government.

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