Next steps for the Norwich Western Link to be considered by Cabinet
A report recommending that a major infrastructure project for Norfolk progresses to crucial next steps in its development will be considered by Norfolk County Council's Cabinet early next month.
Planning application documents for the Norwich Western Link, a new 3.9 mile dual carriageway road to the west of the city, have been under development for several months. Subject to the necessary internal approvals being given, the council would intend to submit the planning application early next year.
Cllr Graham Plant, Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Infrastructure at Norfolk County Council, said: "It's crucial that we continue to invest in Norfolk's transport infrastructure, to tackle existing traffic problems, support local businesses and enable our road networks to cope with planned housing and job growth.
"Now that we have secured a funding commitment of more than £200m from central government for the Norwich Western Link we can get this much-needed project moving forward again. We know a lot of people and businesses in Norfolk are being badly affected by traffic congestion to the west of Norwich every day, and planned growth will make these problems worse. Getting the Norwich Western Link built will tackle these issues and create lots of other benefits for people living and working in Norfolk."
The Norwich Western Link would connect the A47 to Broadland Northway to the west of Norwich and, together with National Highways' project to dual the A47 between North Tuddenham and Easton, complete a fully dualled orbital route around the city.
The new link road is expected to cut traffic congestion, reduce journey times and improve air quality in communities, as well as have wider benefits for Norfolk's economy. The Norwich Western Link is also expected to improve road safety and support people to walk, cycle and use public transport, by taking traffic off local roads and out of communities and through the introduction of complementary measures on the road network.
The project had been in a period of reduced activity over the summer and into autumn in order to reduce costs while a funding commitment was awaited from central government. The Department for Transport confirmed in mid-October that it had approved the Norwich Western Link's Outline Business Case (OBC) and would commit £213m towards the overall cost of the project, subject to future stages of the project being satisfactorily completed.
Since then, work to review and update the planning application documents has been underway. Once the planning application is finalised and submitted, the project team would then make and publish a Compulsory Purchase Order, for land required for the project, and a Side Roads Order, which would authorise the County Council as the highways authority to make alterations to roads and highways.
Cllr Greg Peck, County Councillor for the Reepham Division, said: "The proposed route of the Norwich Western Link runs entirely through my division, from start to finish. Villages in the area are badly affected by traffic congestion and rat-running and it's a major concern for lots of the residents I represent, some of whom struggle to get out of their driveways or don't feel safe walking or cycling to local facilities.
"The Norwich Western Link will make a huge difference to these communities and getting the planning application submitted and the project moving forward will be really welcomed by me and many others."
The cabinet report provides an updated anticipated timetable and budget for the project, in part due to the delay in receiving OBC approval and also as a result of factoring in information that has been confirmed as the project has developed. It is now expected that initial works will start in late 2025, with the start of the main construction works in summer 2026, with the road open for use in 2029.
The revised budget for the project is now £273.9m, an increase of £22.8m from the previous budget agreed in July 2022, which could increase the local contribution towards the project by £22.9m. However, the Department for Transport (DfT) have indicated that they could provide funding of up to 100% of the costs set out at OBC stage, which stood at £251.1m. If the government provided £251.1m of funding, the local contribution required towards the overall cost of the project would be less than previously anticipated even with the overall budget increase.
Discussions with the DfT around their increased contributions are expected to take place in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, DfT have already committed to providing £24m from their contribution to the County Council, which is funding the development of the project.
Members of the County Council's cabinet will be asked to approve various recommendations linked to the Norwich Western Link's planning application, Side Roads Order and Compulsory Purchase Order when they meet on Monday 4 December. They will also be asked to recommend the increased budget and local contribution for approval by Full Council, when it meets in January 2024.
Cabinet will consider the report when it meets at 10am on Monday, 4 December. You can watch the meeting, live or afterwards, and read the reports online.