Thickthorn roundabout hearing over in 15 minutes - after nobody turns up

Thickthorn Roundabout July 2020. Picture: Mike Page

Thickthorn Roundabout. - Credit: Mike Page

The first hearing over the potential multi-million pound revamp of a roundabout on the edge of Norwich ended more rapidly than planned - because nobody turned up to speak at it.

Virtual public hearings which will help decide if proposals for changes at the Thickthorn Interchange, where the A47 and A11 meet near Hethersett, were scheduled for today (Tuesday, November 16), tomorrow and Thursday.

But the two speakers who had requested to comment at Tuesday's 10am Planning Inspectorate open floor hearing were not present to make their comments about the scheme.

Plan showing Thickthorn Roundabout changes

The plans for the changes at Thickthorn Roundabout. - Credit: Highways England

That meant representatives for National Highways, whose application it is, had no comment to make, as they were ready to respond solely as a right of reply to any issues raised by the speakers.

With nothing to discuss, planning inspector Matthew Shrigley had closed the meeting within 15 minutes of it starting.

Hearings on Wednesday, where environmental matters are due to be discussed, and on Thursday are still due to go ahead.

The bulk of the evidence which the planning inspector will weigh up as has been made in writing, so the lack of discussion at Tuesday's hearing will not make a material difference to the inquiry.

The plans include a new slip road off the A11 northbound, which will take motorists beneath both roads before rejoining traffic on the A47 heading towards Great Yarmouth - eliminating the need to use the roundabout.

The changes would also see a segregated left-hand turn added to those travelling eastbound on the A47, a new footbridge and a fourth lane on the southern part of the junction.

Grant Shapps. Picture: James Bass

Transport secretary Grant Shapps. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

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Following the hearings, the Planning Inspectorate will make a recommendation to transport secretary Grant Shapps, who gets the final say on whether the scheme should be granted a development consent order.

If it gets the go-ahead, work would start in 2023 and be finished in 2024.

Similar hearings have recently been held over the dualling of sections of the A47 between North Tuddenham and Easton and from Blofield to North Burlingham.