Consultation reveals public support for NDR and A47 western link
- Credit: Archant
A consultation has revealed strong support for the creation of a new road linking the Norwich Northern Distributor Road to the A47.
Hundreds of people responded to Norfolk County Council's eight-week consultation asking whether the Western Link should be pursued.
The public was asked to identify transport issues to the west of Norwich and what they thought could be done to tackle them.
Results of the consultation, which ran between May and July, show 1,262 picked the option of a new road linking the NDR to the A47.
The second most popular choice – to improve existing roads – received 398 votes.
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Rat-running, unsuitable roads and slow journey times were identified as the main transport issues for people west of the city.
Martin Wilby, chairman of the council's environment, development and transport committee, said the results send a 'clear message' as to what people want to see happen to improve travel.
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The consultation followed the opening of the £205m NDR, now known as the Broadland Northway.
The road currently ends at the A1067, but the Conservative-controlled county council has made linking it to the A47 to the west of the city a priority.
Mr Wilby said: 'It's important that whatever options we come up with to tackle the transport problems that exist take account of the first-hand experiences of those people who live, work or travel regularly in this area.
'We had a really good response to the consultation, which has confirmed what people see as the major transport issues and also suggested where some of the main problem areas are.
'So this provides us with lots of evidence that we can consider alongside other information when deciding which options are likely to be the most effective.'
The council made providing a Norwich Western Link one of its three infrastructure priorities in 2016, along with the Third River Crossing in Great Yarmouth and the Long Stratton Bypass.
The council said it will use the information from the consultation, as well as other data and evidence, to help propose options to improve travel in the west of Norwich.
A further consultation on these is likely to take place later this year, a county council spokesman said.
Opposition to link road
Despite the consultation suggesting widespread support for the Western Link, not everyone is in favour of its creation.
Andrew Cawdron, from the Wensum Valley Alliance, argued more people voted for alternative options to the new link road.
Consultation figures show a total of 1,657 votes were spread across nine other options available.
They included improving existing roads, cycling routes and public transport.
But a spokesman for Norfolk County Council said people had the choice to pick multiple options in the consultation.
'People were told they could click as many as they wanted,' the spokesman said. 'And the road option was still the most popular.'
Mr Cawdron, parish councillor in Great and Little Plumstead, said a cheaper solution to a new road would be to improve the B1535, which connects Fakenham Road to the A47 via Weston Longville.
When the NDR was at the planning stages, there were options to link it to the A47.
But they were ruled out because of the cost of crossing the Wensum Valley, a site of special scientific interest.
However, the idea has been revived with consultants believing a £160m viaduct could be the solution.
Nova Fairbank, public affairs manager for Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said a new link road would ensure the county has infrastructure to meet its 'growth ambitions.'
She said: 'It will further help to improve journeys into and around the west of the city, support potential housing and jobs growth, provide the infrastructure to manage the additional traffic this will create, and improve quality of life for people living in the area.
'This final piece of the puzzle will ensure that Norfolk has infrastructure that will meet our growth ambitions. It will create stronger and more effective links to the Midlands and the North and will help Norfolk businesses to thrive and deliver greater economic growth and jobs.'
Meanwhile, Michael Rayner, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said a study was needed into how the newly-opened Broadland Northway had impacted traffic.
He said: 'I would like to see some sort of traffic survey from before and after the NDR was opened to see what the increase across the Wensum Valley has been, because that would inform people as to what the best solution will be.'
What the consultation found
The consultation asked people: 'Although one potential option to tackle transport issues in this area is to build a new road we are committed to examining all of the possible options. Which options would you like us to explore?'
The results were:
• New road linking NDR to A47 – 1,262
• Improving existing roads – 398
• Improving public transport – 268
• Improving cycling routes – 255
• New cycling route linking NDR to A47 – 239
• Traffic calming on existing routes – 176
• Better walking routes – 153
• New walking route linking NDR to A47 – 119
• Other – 25
• Do nothing – 24
The council said further work to analyse the 'free text' information given as part of the consultation is still ongoing, including going through the 773 comments people 'pinned' to a consultation map to highlight problems in specific locations.