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Coronavirus halts consultation over NDR Western Link road

PUBLISHED: 16:18 28 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:18 28 March 2020

Option C is the county council's preferred route for the Western Link. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Option C is the county council's preferred route for the Western Link. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Norfolk County Council.

Public consultation over the controversial Norwich Western Link road has been postponed because of coronavirus - amid uncertainty over what the spending on the national effort to combat the virus will have on major projects.

Consultation over the mooted Norwich Western Link has been postponed. Pic: Norfolk County Council.Consultation over the mooted Norwich Western Link has been postponed. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Consultation over the road, which would connect the Northern Distributor Road to the A47 to the west of Norwich, was due to begin in April.

But Norfolk County Council has postponed it. Council bosses felt the people would not be able to give their views fully during the coronavirus pandemic.

While the government has not committed any money to the Western Link, it had awarded £98m towards the £120m Great Yarmouth Third River Crossing.

The hope was to start construction on that later this year, if the secretary of state grants a development consent order. But question marks now hang over that process.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways and infrastructure. Picture: Simon ParkinMartin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways and infrastructure. Picture: Simon Parkin

However, council leaders say work on the projects is continuing, although some officers working on them have been redeployed to support County Hall’s response to the virus.

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Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure at Norfolk County Council, said: “Work is continuing on these projects, with some changes made in light of the coronavirus restrictions and guidance.

“For example, we’ve postponed the public consultation planned to begin in April for the Norwich Western Link.

“The situation we all find ourselves in is still evolving and as such it’s extremely hard to predict what effect coronavirus could have on future projects.

“We at the council, like many others, are adjusting our ways of working and bringing in changes to help keep people in Norfolk safe and well in these uncertain times, and we’ll continue to do this in the coming days, weeks and quite possibly months.”

The Western Link would cost at least £153m and would link to the A47 at a new junction at Wood Lane near Honingham, with a 720-metre-long viaduct over the River Wensum.

It has been backed by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich Airport, fire chiefs and bus bosses.

But it is opposed by the Wensum Valley Alliance, the Green Party, woodland owners on the route and the Labour group at County Hall.


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