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Views on planned new road and Hunstanton housing development

In his weekly Turnstone column, John Maiden discusses transport and housing...

According to BBC News for Norfolk, critics of the proposed Norwich Western Link (NWL) have been claiming for some time that the proposed road would be environmentally and economically damaging. Labour members of the county council are now claiming that instead of the estimate of £251m, once long-term borrowing fees are taken into account, the total cost of the NWL could be closer to £400m.

In response Andrew Jamieson, deputy leader of the Conservative-controlled council and county councillor for Hunstanton, said that he remained confident the project would go ahead.

Twinning sign on Redgate Hill
Twinning sign on Redgate Hill

This did not please Labour county councillor Emma Corlett who argued that the NWL had been doomed from the start. She reminded councillors that although it had been agreed in 2016, they were still no closer to a solution for residents in all the villages impacted by rat-running.

Councillor Corlett suggested that the best way to prevent further unnecessary expenditure would be to draw a line under the NWL and to work with local residents in all the affected areas to find a more reasonable solution, which would be better for the environment.

As a council taxpayer, I take a very dim view of the fact that the county council has already spent a massive £38m on the project’s business plan and preparatory work. The county council has now submitted an outline business case to the Department for Transport and is awaiting approval. If it is signed off by the Government, the 3.9 miles of new road would complete an orbital dual carriageway route around Norwich. Sounds to me like a case of ever-decreasing circles!

Instead of an orbital dual carriageway around one city, why not have an orbital railway around Norfolk, commencing with lines radiating out from Lynn to Norwich; Hunstanton; and Peterborough; or have I been watching too many televised repeats of Michael Portillo’s most amazing railway journeys?

I hope not, because a new railway station for Hunstanton would blend in nicely with the independent living accommodation, recently approved by Norfolk County Councillors for our town. More than 60 new homes are to be built on a greenfield site after councillors approved a £3m scheme. County councillors gave the go-ahead for independent living accommodation aimed at people aged 55 and over on land to the east of the A149 Lynn Road in Hunstanton.

Assuming the inhabitants of Hunstanton are given the chance to comment on the plans when they are submitted to West Norfolk Council, I will have a couple of points to make.

The road sign on the A149 describes Hunstanton as a “Victorian Seaside Town.” It would therefore be appropriate if carstone and a hint of Victorian Gothic, or arts and craft, could reflect this ‘welcome’ message. Regardless of this factor, I would suggest that the hedge currently screening the site from the road is left in place and allowed to grow to an appropriate height and depth, thereby continuing to provide a natural wildlife habitat.

Finally, since trees are shown on the artist’s impression, let’s make them a reality for this ‘edge of town’ development, bordering on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty!

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