Extension to Highways England depot 'essential' for A11 upkeep

The A11 Wymondham bypass.Photo: Denise BradleyCopy: file picFor: file picArchant Norfolk pic

The A11 trunk road is maintained by Highways England. - Credit: Denise Bradley

A proposed extension to a Highways England depot in Norfolk is "essential" to its work maintaining the A11 trunk road, according to the agency.

It has submitted an application to South Norfolk District Council (SNDC) – validated this week – which, if approved, would see the current depot at Suton, sandwiched between the A11 and the B1172, extended.

The current facility covers more than two and a half acres, and Highways England wants the extension to take it to more than four.

The site has no existing use, so the agency wants to use it to provide additional storage for materials and equipment used to maintain the A11 – which is "of vital importance to the Greater Norwich area".

In a design and access statement, Highways England said: "The proposed extension to the existing Highways England depot is essential for the continued and effective delivery of maintenance services for the Strategic Network, primarily the A11.

"The efficient functioning of the A11 is important for the Norfolk economy and so the proposal will deliver wider economic and growth benefits.

"In addition, the proposal will result in a net ecological gain through the provision of wildlife corridors. The retention of existing boundary trees, augmented by the wildlife corridors, will ensure no wider adverse impacts to the landscape and surrounding countryside."

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It also highlighted its efforts to ensure the planned extension has no detrimental impact on wildlife in the area.

No trees or hedges will need to be removed, while a buffer zone will also be created around the perimeter of the site. This will allow for a wildlife corridor and "will achieve a new ecological gain" with additional planting to augment existing trees and shrubs.

As well as the A11, Highways England is also responsible for the A47 – the proposed dualling of which has been a hotly-debated topic for many years.

The agency added it is "optimistic that the council will support this application".

Consultation on the plans is now open, and those who wish to give their views can do so via the SNDC planning portal website.

The council will deal with the application in due course.