£98m Budget pledge could see vehicles using 'vital' new bridge by 2022
Courtesy of Norfolk County Council
A £98m pledge from the chancellor in his Budget means work could start in 2020 on a new bridge which will open up investment for the whole region.
In the fine print of Philip Hammond’s speech was the long-awaited announcement that Great Yarmouth’s third river crossing finally has the financial backing it needs for construction.
The £120m bridge, which will open for passing river traffic, will add £150m a year to the region’s economy and deliver 5,000 jobs and could be ready for the first vehicles to drive across two years after construction starts.
Leader of Norfolk County Council, Cliff Jordan, said it was a fantastic day for Great Yarmouth and for the whole of Norfolk.
He added: “The government doesn’t dish out money lightly so this is a real show of ministers’ commitment and faith in the third river crossing and the benefits it will bring. It’s a huge step forward for the project and we’ll keep cracking on to get the bridge built as soon as possible.”
In March, Norfolk County Council agreed to ‘bridge the gap’ in funding for the £120m scheme – around 20pc of the total cost.
This is in line with the funding arrangement for Lowestoft’s third crossing over Lake Lothing, to which the government pledged more than £70m last year.
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By connecting Great Yarmouth’s growing Outer Harbour to the A47 trunk road network, the port will be more accessible for businesses connected to the burgeoning wind farm industry and those with oil and gas decommissioning contracts based in the town.
It also strengthens the business case for dualling the A47, particularly the Acle Straight, which if completed would provide dual carriageway links between Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and London for the first time.
Opening up port and cutting traffic
The new bridge will link the former A12 at the Harfreys roundabout in the Southtown area of Yarmouth to the port and the Enterprise Zones on the other side of the river in South Denes Road.
Chairman of the county’s transport committee Martin Wilby said the people and businesses in the seaside town deserved a new bridge to alleviate traffic.
He added: “A new bridge will help tackle the town’s traffic congestion and make it easier and more attractive to visit and do business there, which is good for Yarmouth’s future and its economy and therefore good for Norfolk.”
Leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council Graham Plant said it was a vital step forward, and the local authority was committed to continuing to work alongside its partners to ensure the bridge becomes a reality.
Mr Plant, who is also a county councillor, added: “As England’s energy sector capital and a top UK coastal resort, Great Yarmouth has huge opportunities on the horizon.
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“The benefits of the crossing for our residents, businesses and visitors are significant, improving traffic connections, creating thousands of jobs and unlocking further business, regeneration and economic growth opportunities.”
Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said he was proud that local efforts to lobby for the project had paid off.
He added: “I have been part of the local campaign in support of this project, alongside businesses, residents and members of both Norfolk County Council and Great Yarmouth Borough Council.
“I am immensely proud that the business case and hard work has paid off, and that this project can now move forward.
“The third river crossing will provide massive potential for our businesses, as well as improving traffic flow in the constituency, and I look forward to seeing the opportunities that this will open up.”
Welcome from business
Chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership Doug Field said the case we made to government was a compelling one.
He added: “The third river crossing is key to increasing our productivity, attracting inward investment and retaining local talent.
“It will help to create thousands of new jobs and reduce congestion which costs our local business time, money and customers.”
The public affairs manager for the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce Nova Fairbank said the announcement showed the strength of the joint partnership working in our region.
Port director at Peel Ports Great Yarmouth Richard Goffin welcomed the news and said he will continue to work alongside the council, local businesses and port users to ensure the bridge maximises its potential for the region’s economic growth.
Years in the planning
Since 2003, Norfolk County Council has invested close to £4m towards a third river crossing for Great Yarmouth.
This includes £1.1m to identify the preferred crossing type and £2.8m to acquire properties and land to safeguard the route.
The route was adopted by the council’s cabinet in 2009.
Norfolk County Council says the third river crossing scheme could deliver up to 5,000 jobs and it could add £150m per year to the region’s economy.
It is said the scheme would reduce congestion by removing 1,000 and 200 vehicles from Haven and Breydon Bridges respectively in peak periods and lead to shorter journey times.
The idea of a tunnel under the River Yare was rejected as it would be more expensive at £180m.
Tourism, which employs a third of workers in Great Yarmouth and is worth over £591m annually, could also be boosted further by the new bridge allowing more direct access to the sea front.