NDR western link could see council repaying £1m per year for half a century

PUBLISHED: 18:42 22 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:50 23 July 2019

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 County Council.

A potential western link for the Norwich Northern Distributor Road could see Norfolk County Council repaying £1m per year for the next 50 years, it has been revealed.

Andrew Jamieson, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for finance. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.Andrew Jamieson, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for finance. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

As members of the council's scrutiny committee examined the cabinet's decision to name its preferred route for the much-discussed road, the extent of borrowing that will be necessary for it to happen was raised.

And with hope that the Department for Transport will largely fund the £153m road, which will connect the NDR - also known as the Broadland Northway - to the A47 at Wood Lane, the level of borrowing the council will require was discussed.

Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance, said between £25m and £30m would likely need to be found by the council to fund its part, but that it could be left serving that debt by repaying almost £1m every year for the next half a century.

Liberal Democrat councillor for Eaton Brian Watkins posed the question of what would happen should - like the NDR itself - the link end up over budget and how the council would address the situation,

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Mr Jamieson added that the council would likely turn to organisations such as the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership for support in such eventualities.

It was also revealed at the meeting that officers had considered more than 80 potential routes for the western link before its shortlist of four, before eventually opting for route C last week.

Meanwhile, Labour councillor Emma Corlett raised concerns over the prospect of borrowing money long term, in an uncertain political and financial climate - particularly surrounding Brexit.

Mr Jamieson, though, said any borrowing would be done at a 50-year fixed rate of two per cent, mitigating the uncertainty.

During the meeting, there were also questions asked over how any potential road would impact on the county's biodiveristy and wildlife habitats.

Officers however said much of the work to identify exact mitigation would be to follow, with a deadline of Wednesday, July 31 looming for the council to submit its initial vision with Transport East.

With members of the committee having already sat through a four-hour full council meeting, though, it was agreed discussions over the link would continue at next week's scrutiny committee - on Tuesday, July 30.

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