Norfolk County Council is preparing to submit a vital document to central government which could pave the way for construction of a long-awaited third river crossing for Great Yarmouth starting in 2020.
The council was awarded more than £1 million last August by the Department for Transport to develop an outline business case for a new road bridge across the River Yare. Since then, the County Council has been gathering evidence and galvanising support for the project, using traffic surveys, a public consultation and gaining the backing of local business and community leaders. The project has strong support in Norfolk from bodies including Norfolk County Council, New Anglia LEP, Great Yarmouth Borough Council.
The outline business case is now being finalised and will be submitted later this month. The Department for Transport is expected to make a decision during the summer on whether to grant the project ‘programme entry’ status and award the County Council further funding to develop the planning application and detailed surveys and design work for the third river crossing.
Martin Wilby, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Environment, Development and Transport Committee, said: “The third river crossing is vital to Great Yarmouth’s future prosperity. The town has enormous potential for economic growth, with its burgeoning status as a hub for the offshore renewable energy industry as well as hosting two government-designated Enterprise Zone areas.
“Good transport links are key to attracting investment from businesses, and the resulting skilled jobs and regeneration could make a huge difference to the area and Norfolk as a whole. The enthusiastic support we have received for the third river crossing from local residents, the business community and partner organisations is very much appreciated and has enabled us to put together the strongest possible case to secure national funding and move this much-needed project to the next stage.”
Norfolk County Council’s proposal for a third river crossing would see a lifting bridge constructed linking the newly-renumbered A47 (formerly A12) at the Harfreys roundabout in the Southtown area of Yarmouth to the port and the Enterprise Zones on the other side of the river. The new bridge would help to reduce traffic build-up on the town’s roads, particularly on its existing Haven and Breydon bridges over the River Yare which often become congested during ‘rush hour’ times and peak tourist seasons.
Nearly 500 individuals, including local residents and business representatives, responded to Norfolk County Council’s public consultation on the proposed third river crossing and wider transport issues in the Great Yarmouth area, which was held between November 2016 and January 2017. The results showed that:
• 71% of respondents said traffic congestion in Great Yarmouth was either a serious or very serious issue;
• 79% either strongly agreed or agreed that the third river crossing would make their journey times shorter;
• 80% either strongly agreed or agreed that congestion would be greatly reduced by a new river crossing;
• 81% said they would be very likely or likely to use a third river crossing.
Members of Norfolk County Council’s Environment, Transport and Development Committee received an update on the third river crossing project on Friday (17 March) which includes a breakdown of the likely costs of the scheme from this point on.
It is estimated that £120 million would need to be spent between now and the project’s completion to design and construct the bridge, with Norfolk County Council seeking 80% of these costs from the Department for Transport and 20% to come from a local contribution. This could come from a variety of sources, possibly including, but not limited to, the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, local authorities and the private sector.
The third river crossing is part of a wider plan to transform the Great Yarmouth area over the coming years to make it easier for people to get to and around and make it a more attractive place to live, work and visit. This will help attract future investment and development to the area, creating skilled jobs, business opportunities and giving local people a better quality of life.
For more information on the third river crossing, visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/TRC.