Link road plans in the spotlight

Emma KnightsPlans for a better link between the A47 and A1067 west of Norwich will come under the spotlight this week as local communities express their concerns that not enough money is being invested in the improvements.Emma Knights

Plans for a better link between the A47 and A1067 west of Norwich will come under the spotlight this week as local communities express their concerns that not enough money is being invested in the improvements.

For years there has been much debate about how to best connect the two roads and alleviate problems caused by traffic passing through the villages of Hockering and Weston Longville.

Five link road routes aimed at easing the traffic issues were subject to public consultation and later narrowed down to two which will be discussed by Norfolk County Council's planning and transportation, the environment and waste overview and scrutiny panel on Wednesday.

Hockering is especially affected by heavy goods traffic with northbound HGVs currently directed through the village while lorries heading towards Dereham are sent via Stone Road and Lyng Road. Those heading towards Norwich via the A47 are directed through Wood Lane.

Option One, costing between �10m and �15m, uses existing roads combined with new roads constructed between Wood Lane and Sandy Lane, and between Weston Green Road and Heath Road to create a 6.5m wide carriageway throughout and includes major improvements to the A47 and A1067 junctions. A report to the scrutiny panel said this was unaffordable.

The second option - called Combined Option One and Three - uses existing roads from Weston Hall Road to Wood Lane with improvements ensuring the route is 6m wide throughout.

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The report said it was too expensive to install new junctions either end of the link road at the moment, but to improve the A47 junction it suggests closing Berry's Lane and stopping HGVs turning right onto the A47 at Wood Lane. Instead, it would let them continue to use the Stone Road and Lyng Road route to reach the A47's westbound carriageway.

This option should cost between �4m and �5m, plus �300,000 to �1m for maintenance to Stone Road and Lyng Road.

The report said: 'The combined option one and three minimises the cost and environmental impact of the scheme while still achieving a safe and attractive route for vehicles (to relieve Hockering and Weston Longville).'

However, if it was decided to go ahead with improvements, the report said it recommended a cheaper option, costing between �1.8m and �2.3m along with up to �1m for the Stone Road/Lyng Road HGV route, where the southern section of Combined Option One and Three is improved along parts of Sandy Lane, Walnut Tree Lane and Wood Lane. The report said even at this cost the works would need to be implemented over several years but added that further improvements could also be made at a later date.

Hockering parish councillor Richard Hawker expressed disappointment at the lack of funding but backed the recommendation which he described as 'sensible' as long as further improvements were made in the future.

He said: 'This is a high priority alleviation measure for villages that ought to be in next year's budget for future investigation and definitely the year after for being built. We have done enough talking.'

Clare Morton, Weston Longville Parish Council clerk, said it was disappointing the report seemed to suggest doing the minimum possible due to financial constraint. She said Weston Longville was happy to see proposals to stop HGVs going through Hockering, but did not want other traffic displaced into Weston Longville as a result.

She said other traffic management measures, including improvements to the A1067 and A47 junctions with the link road, needed to be included in plans for the link road to make the route an attractive one for all types of traffic.