Call to scrap Norwich bypass as costs increase

25 Aug 15

Campaigners have called for a government-backed road scheme in Norfolk to be scrapped after it was confirmed that the cost had increased by one-fifth to £180m.

Campaign for Better Transport said that go-ahead for the Norwich Northern Distributor Road would increase funding pressures on local services if Norfolk County Council contributed to close the £30m the funding gap.

The original budget for the bypass, which was first approved in 2011 and will run to the east and north of the city, was £150m.

However, Norfolk council confirmed on August 20 the project now required additional funds due to both construction inflation and design changes needed for development consent approval.

Under revised plans, the Department for Transport will provide an additional £10m for the project, as will both the New Anglia local enterprise partnership and the county council. The authority will now hold a special meeting on 2 September to approve the additional contribution.

In a letter to councillors, council leader George Nobbs said if the deal does go ahead it will be due to “a generous and far-sighted gesture by the Department for Transport and the local enterprise partnership”. The additional funding deal was “far better than we could have hoped for just a few days ago”, he stated.

New Anglia LEP chair Mark Pendlington added the new road will deliver more than £1bn in economic benefit for Norwich and the wider economy.

“It is critical in delivering thousands of jobs, new homes and driving the economic growth we need across our region. We have been talking to government and Norfolk County Council to see how we can support the additional funding needed to make sure it happens.”
However, CBT said that finding £10m in additional funding from the council’s budget would hit other local services.

“When this ring road was first given Department for Transport funding in 2011, we said that it was already a pointless use of public funds, so we’re very disappointed to see nearly £10m in extra funding will be given to Norfolk council by the Department for Transport to help get this unnecessary road built, and that local transport funds that could be better spent by Norfolk County Council and New Anglia LEP will be wasted on this scheme,” CBT’s sustainable transport campaigner Sian Berry said.

“This is especially galling when we warned at the time that road costs would escalate and be a further drain on public finances. Local and national government finances are being squeezed hard, and other transport budgets, including many vital local buses across the country, are being cut.”

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