Work is set to start next month on the £178.45 million Norwich Northern Distributor Road after Norfolk County Council today approved a £9.9 million contribution towards a £30 million budget shortfall.
The Department for Transport (DfT) and New Anglia LEP have each offered £10 million towards the funding gap*.
By 59 votes to eight (three abstentions) the county council today accepted these offers and agreed to cover the remaining £9.9 million from the council’s highways budget.
Members also confirmed the award of the construction contract to Balfour Beatty, subject to final approval of the project by the DfT, with a view to site clearance work starting in October.
After the meeting, George Nobbs, leader of the council, said “This is project of significance not just for Norwich and Norfolk but for all of East Anglia. Thanks to today’s decision work will begin next month.”
During the meeting Cllr Nobbs proposed acceptance of the funding package, describing the Northern Distributor Road as “a much cherished” project that had strong backing among members.
“We have been pushing for this vital infrastructure project for well over a decade and now it is within our grasp,” he said. “The benefits could not be clearer; these are: 40,000 vehicles a day taken off otherwise clogged routes, Potential for £1 billion of economic growth – even by the Government’s standards, this project gives an excellent return on investment, Unlocking real jobs for local people confirming Norfolk as a great place to do business.
“The NDR is the single most important infrastructure improvement supporting properly planned growth in the Greater Norwich area.”
Mr Nobbs said it was no surprise that costs had risen since the NDR was priced in 2012-13, but it was essential that the whole council should endorse the next steps on such a major project.
He also thanked the Government and New Anglia LEP for their “generous and statesmanlike response” when asked to help the council find an additional £29.9 million to meet the final target cost of £178.45 million.
Toby Coke, chairman of environment, development and transport, seconded Mr Nobbs and urged members to support the funding package. “Delay and procrastination will do nothing but put up costs and jeopardise the funding agreements now in place,” he said.
He also predicted that once the NDR opened in 2017, the case for a western link from the A1067 to the A47 would be “utterly compelling”.