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About the Norwich Western Link

Throughout the development of Broadland Northway (formerly the Northern Distributor Road), there has been sustained local pressure for provision of a Norwich Western Link to connect the A47 to the western end of Broadland Northway to ease traffic problems in the local area and improve travel between these two major routes.

In summer 2018, we held an initial Norwich Western Link consultation to identify any transport problems that existed in the area to the west of Norwich and what, if anything, people thought should be done to tackle these problems.

The consultation had more than 1,700 responses and showed that there was very strong support for creating a new link between the A47 and Broadland Northway, with the majority of those responding suggesting a new road as their preferred solution.  Key transport issues identified by people through the consultation included slow journey times, rat running and roads not being suitable for the volume and type of traffic such as HGVs.

Broadland Northway is significantly changing the way the existing road network is used, however there are a range of other considerations that now also need to be considered.  These include proposals by Highways England to dual the section of A47 between Easton and North Tuddenham, the approval of a new Food Enterprise Zone at Easton.

In addition, across the county, there are plans to provide more housing and create more jobs to meet demand and match population growth and there is currently a separate local plan review underway to assess and confirm future targets for this. We believe improving Norfolk’s infrastructure is really important so that it can help make journeys quicker and safer, now and in the future.

The total cost of delivering the Norwich Western Link, including inflation, is estimated at £153m.

There are many things we need to consider as we continue to work on our plans for the Norwich Western Link, including what we want it to achieve. We have therefore developed a set of objectives which are aligned with national and local policy and have taken account of the priorities of local residents.

High-level objectives

  • Support sustainable economic growth 
  • Improve the quality of life for local communities 
  • Promote an improved environment 
  • Improve strategic connectivity with the national road network

Specific objectives

  • Improve connectivity and journey times on key routes in Greater Norwich
  • Reduce the impacts of traffic on people and places within the western area of Greater Norwich
  • Encourage and support walking, cycling and public transport use
  • Improve safety on and near the road network, especially for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Protect the natural and built environment, including the integrity of the River Wensum Special Area of Conservation
  • Improve accessibility to key sites in Greater Norwich

We hope to get the majority of the funding for the project from the Department for Transport (DfT). In May 2020, DfT gave the project conditional entry into its ‘Large Local Majors’ funding programme. As well as providing more than £1 million of development funding for the project in the 2020/21 financial year, this gave us 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 cost of the project.

We have a good track record of attracting national funding for infrastructure projects in Norfolk, from Broadland Northway, the Third River Crossing in Great Yarmouth and improvements to the A47.

Some local contribution is also likely to be needed and there are various local funding options that may be available to us.

 

Highways England made their preferred route announcement for the dualling of the North Tuddenham to Easton stretch of the A47, west of Norwich, on 4 August 2017. The alignment broadly follows the existing A47 single carriageway alignment, but moves the road slightly north as it passes Honingham and slightly south as it passes Hockering, crossing the old A47 at a point between Sandy Lane and Wood Lane. This alignment has the potential advantage of retaining much of the existing local road network, which should therefore minimise the impact of the project during construction.

We have been in discussion with Highways England for some time about our plans to develop a Norwich Western Link and we have worked with them to ensure our link road can feed into their proposed new off-carriageway junction at Wood Lane.

Highways England recently consulted on their proposals to make the A47 between North Tuddenham and Easton a dual carriageway and create two new junctions. The consultation opened on Wednesday 26 February and closed on Thursday 30 April 2020.

Work on dualling this section of the A47 is due to get underway in early 2023.

We have carried out three public consultations to date on the Norwich Western Link. Visit the Have your say page for more information on these.

Before we submit the planning application, we intend to hold another public consultation to gain feedback on further elements of the scheme which are currently being developed and will be included in the planning application.


We are aiming to start construction in 2023, subject to all the necessary statutory processes being completed.

The planning application is due to be made through the Town and Country Planning process.

We received approval for our Strategic Outline Business Case from the Department for Transport slightly later than we had projected in our original timetable for the project, and this was needed before we could progress certain other aspects of the project.

In light of this, we have reviewed the project delivery programme and moved some of the key dates back. We’re now anticipating submitting the planning application in autumn 2021, with the contractor expected to mobilise for construction in mid-2023 and the Norwich Western Link opening to the public in 2025.

About the route

The preferred route is a new 3.9 mile dual carriageway road. It links from the roundabout at the western end of Broadland Northway and extends for around 350 metres along the A1067 Fakenham Road before turning in a south-westerly direction via a new junction.

The road crosses the River Wensum on a viaduct and then continues at or near ground level for the remainder of its length.  It links to the A47 via a new junction at Wood Lane, which forms part of Highways England’s plan to dual the A47 between North Tuddenham and Easton.

The junction with the A47 will be largely determined by Highways England who are responsible for this road and other trunk roads. We have been in discussion with Highways England for some time about our plans to develop a Norwich Western Link and we have worked with them to ensure our link road can feed into their proposed new off-carriageway junction at Wood Lane.

Highways England recently consulted on their proposals to make the A47 between North Tuddenham and Easton a dual carriageway and create two new junctions. The consultation opened on Wednesday 26 February and closed on Thursday 30 April 2020. 

As for the junction with the A1067, we are proposing to create a roundabout to connect this road with the Norwich Western Link.


We are proposing that the only junctions on the Norwich Western Link will be those with the A47 and A1067.

We carried out a public consultation on local access for eight weeks between Monday 27 July and Sunday 20 September 2020. This included details of proposals for the local roads that cross the planned Norwich Western Link – these proposals can be viewed in the Local Access Consultation brochure which can be downloaded from the Have your say page. The consultation responses we received will help to inform our decision-making on these roads.

The landscape, environment and other transport options

Our traffic modelling forecasts are based on the latest published data from the Department for Transport, looking forward to 2040 and beyond.  By this time there may be technological advances such as a shift to electric cars and self-driving cars, and more people working from home.  However, the timescale for these advances and the extent to which they will change travel behaviour is not yet fully understood so cannot be fully predicted at this stage.

As part of providing a Norwich Western Link, we are committed to minimising any impact on the environment. We are aiming to achieve ‘biodiversity net gain’ for all applicable habitats, as set out by Defra, which will see new areas of habitat created, including woodland and wetland, as well as improvements to existing ones.

We have been liaising with Natural England and the Environment Agency about the possibility of creating a Norwich Western Link for some time and what potential environmental mitigation would be needed. We will also seek opportunities to enhance the local environment, so that we can make a positive impact where possible.

There are numerous environmental and ecological considerations in the NWL study area, with designated sites including the River Wensum as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI),  ‘Ancient Woodland’ and several ‘County Wildlife Sites’.  Where possible the shortlisted options have avoided these sites, or our work has indicated that any impacts can be mitigated.

Following discussions with Natural England and the Environment Agency, agreement was reached that a bridge crossing of the River Wensum could be acceptable, but this would be subject to more detailed design and mitigation proposals.

We will comply with the Habitats Directive Regulations to demonstrate that any proposed solution crossing the Wensum would not adversely affect the integrity of the River Wensum SAC.

The viaduct will have to be built high enough to ensure it clears the floodplains and to minimise the impact on the environment.  We expect the bridge to provide around 12 metres (39 feet) clearance over the River Wensum but we're looking at this in more detail now that we have a preferred route.

Because the bridge will be built in low-lying ground, we don't expect it to dominate the wider landscape.  We would look to merge the bridge with its surroundings through planting and landscaping.

Higher bridge crossings are more likely to protect the state of the rivers and their ecology.  This is the case both during the construction phase, as supports would be built further from the river bed, and an ongoing basis due to them creating significantly less shade on the river and causing less disruption to wildlife than a lower bridge.

One of the Norwich Western Link’s project objectives is to encourage and support people to walk, cycle and use public transport. Taking traffic off the existing road network will help with this, but we’re also working to develop complementary transport measures that will support this ambition.

Introducing traffic measures designed to limit the amount, speed and type of vehicles using the existing road network in the area will also be considered as part of the project.

The Norwich Western Link is being developed alongside other transport improvements, including the Transport for Norwich project which focuses on encouraging increased levels of public transport usage and supporting people to walk and cycle where journey distances are appropriate. Visit the Transport for Norwich page for more information.

Between July and September 2020 we carried out a public consultation which asked for people’s views on proposals to support walking, cycling and public transport use. The responses we received will help to inform our decision-making on these aspects of the project.

How will the Norwich Western Link affect me?

The new link road will take traffic off smaller existing roads in the area. Traffic modelling data for our preferred route was made available when the public consultation on the shortlisted options launched on 26 November 2018, you can see this on p14-15 of the consultation brochure.

The preferred route is Option C in the consultation brochure.

If the new road contributes to an increase in traffic on any roads, we will need to consider whether traffic management measures are needed.

Highways England recently consulted on their proposals to make the A47 between North Tuddenham and Easton a dual carriageway and create two new junctions. The consultation opened on Wednesday 26 February and closed on Thursday 30 April 2020.

From the point where we had a shortlist of options in November 2018 we have written to landowners who could be directly affected by any of the potential routes a number of times to make them aware of the process ahead, and we’ve had further contact with several of these landowners to answer questions and try to address their concerns.

We wrote to anyone whose property will be directly affected when the preferred route was agreed in July 2019 to make them aware of the decision, and to offer to meet with them to explain the implications of the decision for them and their property.

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