Norwich City Council votes to reject £198m bypass link road

Norwich City Council has voted to reject the proposed Norwich Western Link road.

The Norwich Western Link (NWL) would extend the Broadland Northway – or Northern Distributor Road (NDR) – by three miles (5km) by joining the A1067 Fakenham Road to the A47.

Norwich City Council’s cabinet voted against the link, claiming it could promote car dependency.

The county council said the road, which has government approval, could still go ahead, reports the BBC.

Last January, Labour councillor Mike Stonard, cabinet member for inclusive and sustainable growth, called for convincing evidence the NWL was a “critical part of an environmentally progressive and deliverable transport strategy for the city”.

These included air quality and decongestion benefits in the city; an investment package in public transport, cycling and walking in line with funding for the NWL; and evidence wildlife and landscape impacts could be mitigated.

The report, which went before the Labour-run authority’s cabinet on Wednesday evening, said none had been fulfilled.

Mr Stonard said: “When the southern bypass was built for Norfolk we were in a completely different age. We now understand there’s a climate crisis and we need to reduce dependency on the private car, so we need to find alternatives to that.”

But Norfolk County councillor Martin Wilby, who is responsible for highways and transport, said this “key piece of infrastructure” could still go ahead and said the city council’s decision was “premature”.

“We’ve still got work to do, we’re going to put our planning application in and our survey studies that we did in 2021. I would say all of the information that they’re looking for will come forward at that stage.”

Mr Wilby said the county had been working with the city council on improving access to public transport, walking, and cycling.

But, he said: “People from rural parts of the county go to Norwich to do their shopping, visit museums, restaurants and things like that, so we have to make it an attractive place for all.”

The Stop The Wensum Link group which is campaigning to halt the project, cites environmental and economic arguments against it.

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