‘People are suffering’ - How Western Link could impact villages

The route of the Western Link.

The route of the proposed Western Link. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

The planned Western Link, joining the Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR) to the A47, will have a big impact on travel between Norwich, and some of Norfolk’s larger towns - but what about the villages next to it?

Norfolk County Council (NCC) is making a business case for the controversial £198 million road with the government, and has agreed to award a contract to build it

The road will run from Attlebridge to Honingham, cutting a path between Weston Longville and Ringland.

Vice Chairman for Ringland parish council Nick Adams walks along the proposed western red route. Thi

Ringland Parish Council chair Nick Adams - Credit: EDP / Archant 2003

Ringland Parish Council chairman, Nick Adams, said: “When the NDR was built, the plan was to make that a full circuit route, and we opposed it because of the impact of the crossing over the Wensum Valley. 

“To that end, we were happy when the Western Link part wasn’t built.

“However, since then, the dualling of the A47 has progressed, and we now know the plan is to close the Easton roundabout.”

NCC have argued that the Western Link would replace the roundabout’s closure. 

Therefore, Mr Adams said: “If the A47 [dualling] happens, which it will, then the Western Link needs to happen, because the A47 [dualling] is forcing the case for the Western Link.” 

A view of the roadworks on the A47 from Stoke Road. Picture: Danielle Booden

Nick Adams hopes the dualling of the A47 will take place alongside the construction of the Western Link. - Credit: Danielle Booden

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“If the road is built there will be significant reduction in traffic through Ringland and also through Western Longville.”

“It will reduce the noise we get in the village as a result of cars coming directly through.

"Conversely, a negative is we will have a continual traffic noise in the background from the dual carriageway. 

“We’re hoping that NCC stays good to its word and delivers a functional noise mitigation scheme,” he said, adding that he was pessimistic about the road’s ecological impact. 

Greg Peck, Conservative candidate for Reepham. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council member for asset management - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

County councillor for the area, Greg Peck, “strongly supports” the road.

“As an ex-chair of CPRE East of England region, I am passionate about protecting our countryside,” said Mr Peck. 

“However, the countryside includes the people living in it. The people in the villages I represent are suffering.

“I maintain that not to build this road will be more harmful to the environment than to build it.

“Since the completion of the NDR, the rat-running through the surrounding villages in my division, especially Weston Longville and Ringland, has become intolerable. This will only get worse if the Western Link is not completed.

“Experience the Ringland Hills in rush hour, with cars and trucks constantly backing up to enable them to pass, with all the emissions that involves, plus the erosion of hedgerows.

“Likewise, in Weston Longville, you may have experienced the mass of concrete traffic calming through the village, which is temporary and can be removed once the Western Link is completed. I am not exaggerating when I say the health and wellbeing of the residents is suffering.

“Residents in the village take their life in their hands when stepping out of their houses, as traffic speeds up to avoid getting stuck in the traffic calming scheme and then having to back up - not to mention the pollution they are suffering as traffic queues, waiting to enter the scheme.”

He added: “I am also pleased to see the emphasis on protecting the environment and wildlife, with the necessary mitigation measures, including wildlife bridges and underpasses.”

Iain Robinson's woodland where the proposed western link road would cut through at Ringland. Picture

Woodland where the proposed western link road would cut through at Ringland. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Simon Littleboy, who runs the Ringland Swan pub, said reduced traffic through the Ringland Hills would negatively affect his business, though he appreciated it wasn’t the same for everyone.

“From half past four until half past six in the afternoon, the traffic is just continuous.

"Especially on a Saturday when they do the changeover on the Broads, a lot of people on their way to the Broads, or vice versa, stop for a drink and a bite to eat,” said Mr Littleboy.

Sue Huckle, at her East Tuddenham nursery, Posh Plants

Sue Huckle, at her East Tuddenham nursery, Posh Plants. - Credit: Sue Huckle

Sue Huckle, who owns East Tuddenham’s Posh Plants garden centre, said: “I deliver plants to weddings and events using a van and a box trailer, so it might be a bit easier if the roads are improved across to Western Longville, through to the Fakenham Road.

“I do quite a bit of work in north Norfolk and getting over there can sometimes be a bit tricky."

She added however: “I’m not too sure about the ecology of the whole Ringland area. That’s very important, and that’s something that’s definitely on the negative side.”

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