Council set aside extra £19.25m for cost of NDR

PUBLISHED: 15:59 11 December 2017 | UPDATED: 15:59 11 December 2017

The section of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road from the A1067 to A140 is now open.  Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The section of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road from the A1067 to A140 is now open. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

An extra £19.25m has been set aside for the cost of the over budget Norwich Northern Distributor Road - but councillors warned they want reassurance that lessons are learned.

Norfolk County Council officers had sought the extra money for the road’s budget on top of the £185.7m already budgeted.

Officers said the extra money was needed after contractor Balfour Beatty claimed for extra costs accrued in building the 12.5 mile road, which will stretch from the A47 at Postwick to the A1067 Fakenham Road.

The council spent months locked in talks with the contractor over the price hike, with issues such as delays in getting the go-ahead to take the road over the railway line at Rackheath and the cost to divert utilities, such as gas pipes, pushing up the cost.

At today’s meeting of the full council, councillors agreed to add an extra £19.3m to the NDR budget.

They will re-allocate £7.3m from the budget for capital projects and £12m from cash balances.

A long-term capital funding arrangement to replace that £12m will be submitted to the policy and resources committee in January.

The council already made the western link - which would connect the NDR to the A47 to the west of Norwich - a priority.

But Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour opposition group, said lessons needed to be learned from the overspend on the NDR.

He said: “I like the idea of the western link in principle, but let’s do it properly. There are lessons to be learned from the £25m NDR overspend. That is not peanuts and I’m not prepared to let that lie.”

Stuart Clancy, Conservative vice chair of the environment, development and transport committee, agreed costings needed to be done correctly, but said the western link would turn a road dubbed the ‘road to nowhere’ into a ‘road to somewhere’.

Cliff Jordan, council leader said major projects were often subject to surprises.”

Officers had previously said, if the £12m does have to be borrowed, then it would mean the council would have to pay £425,000 a year for the next 40 years,

With questions over why the council had not agreed a fixed price contract at the start, officers said that would have seen the council pay a premium of some 30pc, while the target based contract which was agreed was about 14pc over budget.

The section of the NDR from the A1067 to the A140 Cromer Road has opened and council bosses still hope the section from the A140 to Wroxham Road could open before the end of the year, with the remaining part open in March next year.

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