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‘Norfolk County Council should be asking for a new railway line from Hunstanton to Norwich via King’s Lynn’

In his weekly Turnstone column, Hunstanton writer John Maiden calls for a new railway line...

National Highways, formerly the Highways Agency, and then Highways England, is a government-owned company charged with operating, maintaining and improving motorways and major A roads in England. It also sets highways standards used by all four UK administrations, through the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges.

Now it transpires that National Highways has been told it must remove the 1,000 tonnes of material it poured underneath Congham Bridge, over the former South Lynn to Great Yarmouth railway branch line. The organisation ‘infilled’ the structure in 2021, claiming this was necessary to make it safe.

Columnist John Maiden is unhappy with some planning decisions made at Hunstanton Town Hall
Columnist John Maiden is unhappy with some planning decisions made at Hunstanton Town Hall

Having spent more time than I bargained for over the past two decades dealing with a poor Planning Authority here in Hunstanton, it came as a very pleasant surprise to learn that West Norfolk Council Planning Authority has the power to overrule a company owned by central government.

All we need now, to give this story the happy ending it deserves, is for Norfolk County Council to inform the government it has decided on a much more environmentally friendly way of using its levelling-up money. Instead of wasting it on less than four miles of dual carriageway, linking the A47 to the so-called NDR, it should be asking central government to provide funding for a new railway line from Hunstanton to Norwich via Lynn.

This is probably expecting too much from a government that appears hell-bent on abandoning the kind of green policies desperately needed to combat global warming, but to quote a song title made famous by the Stranglers: Something Better Change’.

On a related topic there are signs of a growing awareness that homes, as well as public buildings, lost their durability in the second half of the 20th Century. Last week the BBC reported that young people tend to be more interested in buying older properties because they are more likely to have been built to a higher standard. From my own observations, I was struck by the change in the use and thickness of roofing timber, from the 1970s onwards.

Even more worrying is the fact that hospitals, like the one in Lynn, were only intended to last for about 40 years. Does this mean that a hospital built under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) will still be incurring a debt, even after it has been demolished? All of the foregoing comments and speculation make it sound hollow for me to wish Lynn News readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, but the wish is sincere.

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