Supporters and critics react to green light for £148.5m Norwich Northern Distributor Road
- Credit: Archant Norfolk
Supporters have welcomed the government's decision to give the go-ahead for the £148.5m Norwich Northern Distributor Road as an 'opportunity to unlock jobs and new homes', but critics have said it will pave the way for urban sprawl and pollution.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin today agreed to grant a development consent order for the 12.5 mile road, which will stretch from the A1067 Fakenham Road at Attlebridge in the west to Postwick in the east.
The government has agreed to contribute £86.5m towards the scheme, but Norfolk County Council and developer contributions will be needed to cover the rest of the scheme.
The county council says the road will bring a huge economic boost and connected improvements, such as a rapid bus transit in Norwich.
And Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce said: 'This news is another positive step toward getting the improvements to Norfolk's infrastructure which the business community has been calling for.
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'Norfolk Chamber is delighted to hear that the government has given the go-ahead for the NDR and look forward to work starting as the earliest possible opportunity.
'The NDR is not just a piece of road but the opportunity to unlock jobs and new homes for the city and surrounding area.'
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But critics have warned it will lead to rat-running and say the homes which will spring up around it will concrete over swathes of the countryside.
Green county and city councillor Andrew Boswell, said: 'The road will open up development and urban sprawl towards the pristine Norfolk Broads, and later to the Wensum valley to the west.
'Communities around Norwich have opposed it strongly, and their quality of life will now be badly affected. Generations to come will question why this government promoted such irreversible destruction in Norfolk for a mirage of short term, but undeliverable, material gain.
''Norwich has lost the opportunity to be a visionary, low carbon city, and develop a world class public transport system fit for the 21st century.
'Local funding for the road will drain resources away from other transport infrastructure for a generation.'
However, Norfolk County Council's leader George Nobbs, said: 'We are determined to improve Norfolk's infrastructure after years of under-investment, and this is a huge stride forward.
'There are other hurdles to clear, including finalising construction pricing and funding approval, but the Secretary of State's announcement brings us significantly closer to starting work.
'This much needed road improvement around greater Norwich will allow us to create the capacity for other city centre improvements.'
But James Parry, chairman of countryside charity CPRE Norfolk said he was extremely disappointed.
He said: 'A three-quarters NDR will not solve the transport needs of Norwich and Norfolk, will lead to vast amounts of infill development to the north of the city and will compromise the quality of life in many rural villages.
'Most seriously it will generate 'rat-running' traffic, leading inevitably to demands for the NDR to fully connect to the A47, which will then destroy the beautiful and environmentally sensitive Wensum Valley. The taxpayers of Norfolk and our precious countryside will bear the cost of this expensive road for years to come.'
Although consent has been granted, opponents do now have the opportunity to launch a legal challenge against the decision.
• What do you think of the decision? Let us know in the comments section below or write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.