Get set for new bridge

The bridge option has emerged as the front runner in the bid to decide Great Yarmouth's third river crossing raising the prospect of improved journeys for many, but blight and compensation for others.

The bridge option has emerged as the front runner in the bid to decide Great Yarmouth's third river crossing raising the prospect of improved journeys for many, but blight and compensation for others.

Costing up to �122m the 50m bridge will span the River Yare from the bottom of Southtown Road to the South Denes peninsula - but funding will not be available until 2016 at the earliest.

Transport bosses also revealed this week that they had toyed with the idea of closing Haven Bridge to all but buses, taxis and pedestrians and introducing tolls on the new crossing.

But Ian Parkes, principal transport planner with Norfolk County Council, said the overall aim of the new crossing was to provide extra capacity, not take traffic away from the other crossings.

However, the council needs to find ways of meeting the enormous cost of the scheme, which could include an 80p toll for cars and �1.40 for lorries on the new dual carriageway bascule bridge crossing.

Any attempt to introduce this is likely to meet strong resistance from motorists after cabinet papers revealed 61pc of drivers would be put off by having to pay toll charges.

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Mr Parkes said: “People would argue what is the point in looking at a third river crossing if you are only going to close an existing one. In trying to get funding for the third river crossing we are looking at all avenues.

“We are looking at tolling, but the report recommends that normal tolling of the bridge would not work. Effectively we are going to look at other ways to try and fund the third river crossing, but we know that direct tolling of the third river crossing is unlikely to provide enough funding because people would avoid using it.”

These “other avenues” include government funding, but Mr Parkes warned if this option was to be pursued the bridge project would have to compete with other transport schemes from across the region for a reduced pot as the government cuts back on public spending to reduce its debts.

The cabinet papers state that funding for the scheme is “speculative at this stage and certainly some way off in the future” and may not be available until “well after 2016”.

“I am confident that having adopted a preferred route has put us in a strong position to apply for government funding,” Mr Parkes added.

The council's choice was welcomed by Richard Wright, chairman of urban regeneration company 1st East which had identified the extra crossing as a key priority in its area action plan to help regenerate the areas around Breydon Reach and Ice House Quay.

He said: “The 1st East board see the investment as the single most important piece of transport infrastructure needed for the successful future development of Great Yarmouth.

“Norfolk County Council has provided a degree of certainty previously missing.

“It is vital for the town's long-term economic development and prosperity and although funding for the �100m-plus project is not immediately available we will continue to lobby with partners for Nelson's Bridge to be funded as soon as possible.

“It will create a new gateway from the south into the town and its seafront tourist attractions, a link with the South Denes employment area, and it means the outer harbour can reach its full potential.”

A public consultation conducted by 1st East revealed 88pc of respondents favoured the extra crossing.

The bridge decision also means homeowners in Queen Anne's Road and Southtown Road can now apply to the county council for compensation if they can not sell their homes.

Up to 35 homes in the two roads could be demolished to make way for the bridge and blight notices can be issued by homeowners which require County Hall to buy properties at their unaffected market value under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Other property owners who see a 15pc reduction in the property value or face noise pollution could have their homes brought by the council. Money from the council's 2010/11 budget would be set aside for any house purchases.

However, Louise Feller, 39, who lives with children Henry, 10 and Ethan, six in Queen Anne's Road, feared she could make a loss on her property if the unaffected market value was set during the height of the recession when house prices were low.

“I will apply for compensation, but this property is only two years old so I don't know if I will get back what I originally paid for it,” she said.

And fellow Queen Anne's Road resident Daniel Riseborough said he would also be applying for compensation. He also lives in a newly-built terraced house.

The 29-year-old, who lives with partner Leonie Wakefield, 25 and children Jay, nine, Libby, four and Jake Wakefield, three, said: “I am not particularly happy about it to be honest. In a way I feel that the council knew about this before the houses were built because there has always been talk of a third river crossing. I feel a bit annoyed that they allowed the houses to be built in the first place.”

An alternative tunnel crossing from Ballast Quay to the Harfreys roundabout, costing an estimated �376m, was rejected.