Norwich Western Link received government backing
A project that would help complete a dual carriageway orbital route around Norwich and relieve traffic congestion on local roads has been approved by the Department for Transport (DfT) late last week to continue through the next stages of its development.
The Norwich Western Link is a new 3.8 mile dual carriageway road that would connect the western end of Broadland Northway (formerly the NDR) to the A47 trunk road. Norfolk County Council submitted a strategic outline business case for the project last year, which set out why a Norwich Western Link is needed and evidenced the strong support that exists for the link road to be created.
This business case has now been approved by central government, meaning the Norwich Western Link has been given conditional entry into DfT’s ‘Large Local Majors’ project funding programme. As well as providing more than £1 million of development funding for the project in the 2020/21 financial year, today’s announcement gives the council the green light to proceed to the next stage of the national process. This will see a further, more detailed business case submitted for consideration which, if approved, would unlock up to 85% of the total estimated £153 million cost of the project.
Cllr Martin Wilby, Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure at Norfolk County Council, said:
“This announcement and funding commitment is really positive news from the Department of Transport. Investing in infrastructure improvements will be a vital part of supporting Norfolk’s economy to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with the provision of good transport links critical to many of our major industries such as tourism, agriculture and manufacturing and engineering. So this news is particularly welcome right now.”
As part of the Norwich Western Link project, the council is committed to supporting people to walk, cycle and use public transport in the local area. Taking vehicles off small rural roads and in residential areas will help with this, but a range of complementary transport measures is also being developed with input from local parish councils, walking and cycling groups, bus companies and others.
The County Council is also currently finalising proposals to secure a multimillion-pound package of funding from DfT’s Transforming Cities Fund for Norwich. As a result, work would get underway later this year on a programme of works which aims to support people to access areas of employment and education via a range of transport options. Work is also underway to ensure Norfolk can make effective use of its yet-to-be-confirmed share of the £2 billion of funding announced by central government last weekend to install short-term measures to help people to travel on foot or by bike while social distancing restrictions remain in place.
Subject to securing funding and completing necessary statutory processes, the Norwich Western Link is scheduled to open to traffic in 2025. Together with the Highways England A47 dualling between North Tuddenham and Easton, due to get underway in early 2022, this would create a fully dual carriageway orbital route around Norwich.
Commenting on the DfT approval, Nova Fairbank, Head of Policy for Norfolk Chambers of Commerce said:
“Norfolk Chambers are really pleased that Norwich Western Link has received government backing. This is the final piece of the puzzle to ensure that Norfolk has infrastructure that will meet our growth ambitions. It will create stronger and more effective links to the Midlands and the North and will help Norfolk businesses to thrive and deliver greater economic growth and jobs.
“The Norwich Western Link will facilitate easier access to both Norwich airport and Great Yarmouth port. It will further help to improve journeys into and around the west of the city, support potential housing and jobs growth; provide the infrastructure to manage the additional traffic this will create, and improve quality of life for people living in the area.”