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Decision over £153m Western Link route from A47 to NDR to come under scrutiny

PUBLISHED: 08:36 22 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:03 22 July 2019

Part of woodland near Ringland in the Wensum valley, where the western link road to the Northern Broadway (NDR) will come through if it gets built. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Part of woodland near Ringland in the Wensum valley, where the western link road to the Northern Broadway (NDR) will come through if it gets built. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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The controversial £153m Western Link road has been backed by hospital bosses and fire chiefs, who all say it will speed up how quickly emergency vehicles can get around Norwich.

Stuart Ruff, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service's chief fire officer. Pic: Norfolk County Council.Stuart Ruff, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service's chief fire officer. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

But Norfolk County Council cabinet's decision on the route it wants to see the road take will come under the spotlight at a council meeting today.

The council's Conservative-controlled cabinet last week agreed its preferred route for the road. They selected Option C, a 3.9-mile road from the A1067, near the NDR, travelling halfway between Weston Longville and Ringland.

It would link to the A47 at a new junction at Wood Lane near Honingham and would require a 720-metre-long viaduct over the River Wensum.

The proposal has sparked controversy. Campaigners from climate change group Extinction Rebellion protested at County Hall, owners of woodland are against the route, while Norfolk Wildlife Trust has 'grave concerns' about its impact on animal habitats.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Bosses have backed the Western Link. Photo: Nick ButcherThe Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Bosses have backed the Western Link. Photo: Nick Butcher

But supporters include the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, which says it is in the interests of patients and staff.

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A hospital spokesman said: "At present the route is not straightforward and can take some time to navigate across the city, which is particularly an issue for emergency ambulances and patients attending the emergency department.

"Demand continues to grow at NNUH and it is important that the surrounding infrastructure is able to manage this growth. We believe this development is in the interests of our patients, staff and visitors."

Option C is the recommended preferred route for the Western Link. Pic: Norfolk County Council.Option C is the recommended preferred route for the Western Link. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Norfolk's chief fire officer also wants to see the road happen. Stuart Ruff said: "Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service would welcome developments to improve the road infrastructure in the general area highlighted by the proposals.

"In addition to the objective of improving overall road safety for our community, the key outcome we would specifically welcome is reduced traffic congestion and increased traffic flow, which we believe will bring a significant benefit in reducing our overall attendance time to incidents in the affected area.

Paul Martin, commercial manager at First Eastern Counties, said: "We are in support of the Western Link route, as it should reduce the potential for further congested areas building up along main corridors and help 'speed up' bus journey time at busy times of the day."

The road still needs to secure planning permission and funding.

It will come under the spotlight further at a council meeting today (Monday, July 22). The county council's scrutiny committee - which looks at decisions made by the Conservative-controlled cabinet - will be examining the process.

It will be examining the evidence by which the decision was made. The meeting is due to take place at County Hall at 2.30pm.

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