Mixed views as Lowestoft spine road clears last hurdle
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A long-awaited northern spine road for Lowestoft cleared the final planning hurdle this week as the scheme was approved by Suffolk County Council.
The authority's development control committee gave the go-ahead to the fifth and final phase of the project, which has already secured £4.63m in government funding.
However, the decision came amid fierce opposition to a proposed traffic light-controlled junction at the end of Corton Long Lane and calls for a roundabout instead.
The final stage of the scheme will see the road built as a single carriageway between the Millennium Way-Bentley Drive roundabout and the Corton Long Lane junction on the A12. Its main aim will be to remove through traffic and congestion from the residential area around Bentley Drive, and Yarmouth Road.
Once completed, the new 0.7-mile stretch of road will also include a shared walk and cycle way.
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Motorists will be able to travel at 40mph on the new road – 10mph faster than on Yarmouth Road – and there are also plans for a junction onto Blundeston Road.
Work is scheduled to start in May 2014 and finish by spring 2015.
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The project has been drawn up by the county council but it also has the backing of Waveney District Council.
A Waveney spokesman said: 'This important link will genuinely benefit travel and communication for businesses and employees between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth. It is a key feature of the Lowestoft Transport Infrastructure Prospectus which is designed to bring jobs and business growth to the area.
'It will also be a relief to residents of Bentley Drive who will see the flow of traffic greatly reduced.'
Parish councils in Oulton, Corton, and Blundeston all objected to the proposed traffic light-controlled junction where the northern spine road meets the A12 at the end of Corton Long Lane, arguing it would cause tail-backs and force drivers down narrow village roads to avoid the queues.
Corton Parish Council chairman Stephen Pavey said he was unhappy with the way the meeting was conducted and planned to raise the matter to the secretary of state for communities and local government, Eric Pickles, to ask for the decision to be called in.
He said there had been a missed opportunity to improve the scheme as councillors were advised that the plan could either progress with a traffic light controlled junction or be rejected – rather than pursuing the option of a roundabout, which he felt would be much more sensible.
He said: 'I asked, 'what if the junction doesn't work? Can we get a roundabout at a later date?' I was told that even if the junction doesn't work it won't be changed until 2031. Even if it is not fit for purpose, we are lumbered whether we want it or not.'
Waveney MP Peter Aldous said he was pleased the county council was pressing ahead with the project but he was also aware of local concerns about the junction, which he had passed on to the authority.
'In principle I am supportive of the scheme but a lot of the devil is in the detail,' he said. 'It is good news the county council is getting on with it but they do need to ensure that people's concerns are listened to and, where possible, taken into account.'