When outline planning permission was granted in 2014 for the construction of up to 200 houses on land to the north of George Lane (application 2013/1647), which included a new roundabout with the A146, Halsbury Homes, the developer, chose to undertake this work themselves. The actual wording in the original application approval was:
“Prior to the occupation of the 125th dwelling of the development hereby permitted the offsite highway improvement works relating to the new roundabout on the A146 as shown on the highway works phasing plan 23612/013/SK01 Rev A shall be completed to the written satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority in consultation with the Highway Authority.”
This is still an enforceable planning condition.
South Norfolk Council agreed to fund the construction costs in advance so as to see the roundabout constructed in advance of work commencing on the housing development site. This would also have helped the developer as associated access works could have been undertaken at the same time. South Norfolk Council obtained a funding guarantee from the Greater Norwich Development Fund so work could commence. This guarantee still applies although the situation has become more complicated with the added realisation that a high-pressure gas main crossing the A146 needed to be lowered so as to take into account new road construction regulations etc. The cost of this extra work is estimated at £550K which had not been factored into the original funding agreement. The developer’s agent has full responsibility for not finding out about the gas main in the first place and no doubt the developer is now in consultation with him over the added cost.
National Grid Gas need to come up with a definitive plan and then carry out the work of lowering the gas main before construction work can start on the roundabout, which is now causing even further delay. NGG have said that they will not commence work on the gas main until next year as they will not disrupt gas supplies during their high peak winter demand period. The extra funding also has to be found, another delay.
If Norfolk County Council had been allowed to undertake the construction of the roundabout it would have been a different matter since all the investigative work regarding utilities would have been done and with secured funding it would, in all probability, have been finished by now.
The total project cost now is £4,326,077
The developer has already incurred costs of £391,776
The balance of the project cost is therefore £3,934,301
A funding bid has been submitted by NCC to the Department of Transport, National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) for £2,754,010.
Bidders are expected to fund around 30% of costs, which in this case will include third parties private sector funding/support, which will strengthen the case (i.e. link to productivity, growth, jobs, and housing). As these schemes help unlock planned development we will be securing developer or other (e.g. CIL) funding to cover that 30% contribution.
Advance Works April 2018
Procurement August 2018
Construction Start February 2019
Opening Date August 2019
NCC is optimistic that the bid for funding will be successful but if for any reason this is not forthcoming an alternative scheme will not be implemented. The proposed junction improvement has been identified as the optimum scheme to address current problems and to deliver benefits and this is what will happen. The delivery of the housing development will therefore be delayed until council, developer and other partners can secure the necessary funding to bring the junction scheme to a conclusion.
There is also the issue of the Hales roundabout which is fully funded and ‘shovel ready’ with construction being due to commence in January/February next year. This is an NCC project and so will not be plagued by any unforeseen circumstances we hope. It should have a three month build timescale and needs to be completed before works start on the Loddon roundabout.
In the meantime, it has been agreed that the developer will construct a priority junction onto the A146 from the building site as a prerequisite for the first homes being occupied. (I am awaiting a copy of these plans which will have to be submitted to South Norfolk Council for approval.)
This is my interpretation of where we are now and possible outcomes and of course, if anything changes I will let you know.
County Councillor for the Loddon Division