Study into ‘full’ Norwich Northern Distributor Road still on the cards
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2013
Campaigners who say the proposed Norwich Northern Distributor Road must one day connect all the way around to the A47 to the west of the city have said they are 'encouraged' a study into the possibility is still on the cards.
Norfolk County Council's application for the £148.5m road will be considered by the Planning Inspectorate this summer, but that plan is for a 19.5km dual carriageway from the A47 at Postwick (to the east of the city) to the A1067 Fakenham Road (to the north-west) – a scheme awarded £86.5m from the government.
Because the River Wensum is a special area of conservation, initial plans to connect the road to the A47 to the west were not taken forward because of the costs it would involve to avoid a detrimental impact.
Council officers have always said the currently proposed road stands on its own merits and will ease congestion and boost businesses, 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.
The Conservatives had made working towards a 'complete' NDR a key pledge in their manifesto for last May's elections, while the Liberal Democrats, in a list of their policies published last year, said they were committed to a full-length NDR and called for a scoping report into its feasibility.
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And, at a meeting last September, the council agreed a Liberal Democrat/Conservative motion to commission such a report. But almost six months down the line, and no report has been drawn up.
However, council officers have revealed that, next month, they will set out their proposals for that study to the controlling cabinet at County Hall.
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Tom McCabe, interim director of environment, transport and development, told councillors an initial appraisal would need to be carried out, which would take about three months, before options on what a detailed study should involve could be presented to members.
Once members agree the scope of that work - and find the funding to do it - the detailed study, analysis and report would be drawn up.
Tim East, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Costessey and his party's lead for planning, transport, environment and waste, said it was 'encouraging' that the study remained in the pipeline.
He said: 'A full and complete NDR would be of enormous benefit to the western parishes generally and particularly the settlements of Costessey, Taverham, Ringland, Drayton, and Easton.
'It would eliminate the need to rat-run through these villages to access the A11, the Norwich Research Park, Costessey Employment area, the showground, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the A47 southern bypass at its western end.
'The only sensible way forward is a full or complete NDR crossing the Wensum Valley.'
A six-month examination period into the current NDR proposal is likely to start in May or June and run until October or November.
The transport secretary could then make a final decision in February or March next year.
• Do you think the NDR should connect to the A47 on both sides of Norwich? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.