Tax hope in Lowestoft crossing bid

Ambitious plans for a third crossing in Lowestoft could be kick-started by a tax on new developments in the town.

Ambitious plans for a third crossing in Lowestoft could be kick-started by a tax on new developments in the town.

Urban regeneration company 1st East is holding talks to see if part of the estimated £10m to £30m needed to fund the new Lake Lothing crossing could be raised by levying a charge on developers building in the town.

If successful, 1st East claims the cash raised could be enough to push the scheme up the list of regional priorities for government funding.

Last night, 1st East chief executive Philip Watkins, said: "The bridge in Lowestoft does not have any regional funding status. We know that, at the moment, it will not be funded by the public purse. But we also believe we can only deliver regeneration in the town if we have that crossing.

"Now we are going to have to find multiple sources of funding, so we are looking at developer funding, European Union funding, Highways Agency funding and Suffolk County Council funding, among others."

At present, under a scheme known as Section 106 agreements, councils can demand money from developers to fund community projects and infrastructure improvements - whether for schools, health clinics or roads and transport measures.

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Now 1st East is hoping the scheme could be used by Waveney District Council to get money for the crossing.

The move has been backed by Waveney MP Bob Blizzard, who has been campaigning for the crossing for the last five years.

He said: "This is absolutely the right way forward.

"Everybody who lives in Lowestoft knows the third crossing is essential, and people who move into the new homes will realise it's essential.

"It is justified to require major developers to make a contribution, because any development is going to generate more traffic, putting pressure on the existing crossings.

"The campaign is ongoing to get this higher up the regional agenda, and this can only help.

"When these priorities are being assessed, the government is looking at a cost-benefit analysis - they want value for money. So if less money is needed and the same outcome - ie a crossing - is achieved, the cost-benefit analysis is going to be better and we are going to score higher."

Last night, Waveney spokesman Phil Harris said: "We are looking to begin discussions on a whole range of topics relating to how Section 106 funding is spent, but we are still at a very early stage. Whatever is discussed, the priority for us will always be to use the money for the greatest benefit to Waveney residents.

"The third river crossing is clearly an important issue for the people of Lowestoft and while we are happy to explore options that might help us make progress, we will also ensure that available funds go where they are most wanted and most needed."