Norfolk needs the Norwich Western Link to tackle congestion, boost the economy and improve road safety – that’s the message from key supporters of the project as a petition in support of the new link road between the A47 and Broadland Northway reached more than 2,750 signatures.
The local MP, business and community leaders and emergency services representatives have today restated their support for the project, which would cut rat-running, delays and HGV use on local roads to the west of Norwich.
The Build the Norwich Western Link petition was started last Wednesday (19 January) by Gary Blundell, Vice-Chairman of Costessey Town Council. In less than a week the numbers signing it have soared with people citing heavy traffic through communities, air pollution, ambulance response times and road safety concerns as among the reasons for backing the project.
Cllr Martin Wilby, Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Infrastructure at Norfolk County Council, said: “Anyone who has read the comments on the petition website will be left in little doubt of how badly affected the roads and communities to the west of Norwich are by traffic. These problems have got worse in recent years and, with planned growth in and around Norwich, will continue to do so until the Norwich Western Link is built.
“I can reassure people that we will continue to work hard to get this link road created and are committed to doing so in an environmentally responsible way.”
Gary Blundell, Vice-Chairman of Costessey Town Council, said: “The response to the petition over the last week has been overwhelming. I think it shows how badly people are being affected by the current traffic problems, particularly local residents who have seen the congestion, queuing and air pollution get worse and worse in recent years and want their voices to be heard.
“It would be irresponsible to have more houses and jobs being created around the city without better infrastructure and I dread to think what the roads in communities like Costessey would be like in another 10 years without the Norwich Western Link, and the impact this would have on people’s lives and health.”
The need and support for the Norwich Western Link has been reiterated by a range of key supporters of the project, including Jerome Mayhew, Member of Parliament for Broadland, in whose constituency the Norwich Western Link will be built.
Jerome Mayhew MP said: “The need for the Norwich Western Link is very evident to people living in communities to the west of Norwich who have suffered decades of worsening traffic congestion and rat-running. Most of the small rural roads in this area, some of them single track lanes or roads going through the heart of villages, simply can’t cope with the level of traffic using them.
“The Norwich Western Link is a key component of Norfolk’s future transport network which needs to support all types of journeys: businesses delivering goods, visitors to the county and people providing and accessing services, including emergency services who depend upon a good, reliable road network. Norfolk, its residents and its economy need this missing link to be completed.”
The Norwich Western Link will provide the ‘missing link’ between the A47 and Broadland Northway west of Norwich and, together with a planned upgrade to the A47, would create a dual carriageway orbital road around the city. Norfolk County Council is seeking to secure £168 million of investment for the project from the Department for Transport and proposals for the project will include complementary measures to support walking, cycling and public transport use, and creating and improving habitats for wildlife across a wide area.
Clare Morton, Chair of Weston Longville Parish Council, said: “A lot of the local roads to the west of Norwich are not designed to take the volume of traffic they are now seeing. The volume of traffic going through the main routes through Weston Longville makes life very difficult for residents — they cannot get out of their drives or walk to facilities like the village hall or the playground, and the air quality is decreasing as traffic queues.
“The Norwich Western Link is expected to reduce the volume of traffic through Weston Longville down to less than a quarter of the current volumes and make the existing small roads much more attractive to walk and cycle on.”
Richard Pace, Managing Director at Norwich Airport, said: “Norwich Airport wholeheartedly supports the ambition of Norfolk County Council to see the Norwich Western Link Project come to fruition. The Western Link is a critical improvement that will have direct benefits to the accessibility and sustainability of the airport.
“We have recently submitted a planning application for commercial development at Imperial Park north of the airport, which will become a key strategic employment site for the region. The Western Link will provide significant benefits not only by improving accessibility of the site to employees, but also helping to reduce the number of heavy goods vehicles using minor roads in the region.
“Securing infrastructure fit for the 21st century is essential to the continued and long-term prosperity of the county and the wider region, and the Norwich Western Link has a vital part to play in that.”
Nova Fairbank, Chief Operating Officer at Norfolk Chambers of Commerce, said: “The creation of Broadland Northway has been strongly welcomed by the Norfolk business community and it is now vital for the missing link between the A1067 and A47 to be completed as soon as possible.
“The Norwich Western Link will support many of Norfolk’s key industries including agriculture, tourism and manufacturing by reducing journey times and transport costs and opening up new markets. It will also better connect people to key employment, retail and leisure sites in and around Norwich, and provide an attractive link to Norwich Airport and areas north of the city from the Midlands along the A47 trunk road.”
Stuart Ruff, Chief Fire Officer at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “In addition to the objective of improving overall road safety for our community, the key outcome of the Norwich Western Link which NFRS would specifically welcome is reduced traffic congestion and increased traffic flow.
“We believe this will bring a significant benefit in reducing our overall attendance time to incidents in the affected area.”