A47 Norwich to Great Yarmouth Study

Report by the Director of Planning and Transportation



This report outlines the recommendations of Consultants employed by the Highways Agency to advise on the Norwich to Great Yarmouth corridor. It summarises stakeholders’ comments from the consultation process and reviews the report.





A series of studies is being undertaken on trunk roads that do not appear in the Government’s Targeted Programme of Improvements. At the last P&T Review Panel meeting, Members were briefed on the findings of the consultants’ report on the A47 Norwich to Great Yarmouth ‘roads based’ study. The Cabinet has also expressed its view on the Acle Straight aspect of the study.


The recommendations of the consultants’ report are the subject of consultations, with the Planning and Transportation Department acting as ‘postbox’ for comments on behalf of the East of England Local Government Conference (EELGC). It is the Conference, acting as the Regional Planning Body, which has prime responsibility for making recommendations on the matter to the Secretary of State.


This report reviews all of the consultants’ recommendations and considers the views of stakeholders that have so far responded to the consultation process. The County Council needs to put forward its comments on the Consultants’ Report to the EELGC, which will be making its decision at the meeting of the Regional Planning Panel on 17 January 2002.


Although the deadline for responses to the consultation is 21 November, the EELGC has confirmed that it will accept a response from the County Council following Cabinet on 12 December.


Summary of Consultants’ Preferred Plan


The consultants recommend that:

  • the Regional Planning body approves the Preferred Plan and requests that the Secretary of State enters the schemes in the Trunk Road Programme and makes arrangements for the recommendations to be brought forward by local processes;
  • the responsible organisation(s) identified in the report take steps to progress the recommendations;
  • the necessary resources and funds are allocated to enable the recommendations to be acted upon;
  • the Plan be used to inform preparation of Regional Transport Strategy.

The Preferred Plan comprises four elements:

  1. A series of short term measures that make ‘best use’ of the existing transport infrastructure. They have valuable benefits but do not solve the longer term problems of safety and congestion:
  • A47 Acle Straight safety measures (including 50mph limit)
  • A47 White House Junction improvements
  • A47 Western Bypass junction improvements
  • A47 incident detection and drivers’ information system
  • Bus and rail based improvements
  1. Significant improvements to junctions on the Great Yarmouth eastern approaches:
  • A47/A12 Vauxhall Roundabout
  • A12/Pasteur Road Roundabout
  • Fullers Hill Roundabout
  • Rail Station/Asda access
  1. Blofield to North Burlingham Dualling
  2. Acle Straight Widening (widening the road to a two lane modern standard).

In addition to the Preferred Plan, the consultants make a number of Other Recommendations, to be taken forward by Norfolk County Council in association with, in the main, Great Yarmouth Borough Council. These include:

  • Third River Crossing at Great Yarmouth: studies to investigate feasibility, location and impact of opening new bridge
  • A47-A149 Link Road: Maintain and protect route pending outcome of Third River Crossing feasibility study
  • Consider further the local and design implications of findings from the study on the scheme
  • The relative priority to be given to the A47-A149 Link and Third River Crossing, if the feasibility of the latter scheme is confirmed
  • Postwick Park and Ride: Investigate potential use feasibility and cost of establishing rail station
  • Traffic calming and sustainable initiatives: Investigate scope for such measures

The full list of recommendations, who would take them forward and the timescale, is included at Appendix 1.




In acting as ‘postbox’ for the consultation process, the County Council has the opportunity to consider stakeholders’ comments when forming its response to the consultants’ report. The deadline for comments was 21 November 2001 although the County Council has an arrangement to comment after this date. In total 601 responses were received by the closing date, including 87 letters sent to Tony Wright MP. Responses are summarised in a schedule which is available to view in the Members Room. Letters are still being received and these will be passed on to the EELGC for their consideration. However it has not been possible to include reference to the late responses in this report.


In addition to the written responses a 2096 name petition was sent to Great Yarmouth Borough Council which has subsequently been passed on for consideration as part of the consultation process. The petition opposes the consultants recommendations for the Acle Straight and calls for this section of the A47 to be dualled.


The majority of letters contain references to the Acle Straight. The following sections summarise the responses by topic. The views of key stakeholders such as local district councils, Suffolk County Council, Norfolk Police Authority and the Broads Authority are discussed following this summary section.































Acle Straight

Respondents in Favour of Dualling

  • 92% of all responses oppose the consultants’ recommendation for widening and instead support dualling of the Acle Straight.
  • 54% believe that the road should be dualled on economic grounds. In this context the serious social deprivation and economic problems of Great Yarmouth were widely quoted. 53% were worried about the impact that not dualling would have on proposals for the East Port scheme.
  • 13% believe safety and the protection of human life should be more important than any environmental concerns.
  • A few stakeholders believe that dualling could have some positive effects on the environment in creating more dykes and habitats for nature. In all 4% believe that dualling would not cause any greater environmental impacts than widening.
  • There are some concerns that widening would not improve safety but lead to more overtaking accidents (5%).

Respondents Against Dualling/ In Support of Consultants’ Recommendations

  • 5% were received in support of the consultants’ recommendations for widening the Acle Straight. A further 3% contained no reference to this issue.
  • Those in support of the recommendations generally believe that the extra time gained from dualling as opposed to widening would not be justified in terms of the environmental impact (2% of respondents)
  • Another reason cited against dualling the Acle Straight include the inability of the road network at Great Yarmouth to cope with traffic as it approaches from Norwich. It is interesting to note that 4 letters (0.7%) received against dualling do support the provision of the A149/A47 Link Road as a means of reducing congestion around Great Yarmouth.

Reduced speed limit on Acle Straight (50mph)

  • 1% of respondents support the reduction in the speed limit to 50mph. However, 43% are concerned that this will worsen perceptions about the inaccessibility of Great Yarmouth making it appear more isolated.

A149/A47 Link Road

There is strong support for the provision of an A149/A47 Link Road. 54% of letters want the link road to be provided. There were no comments against. Some of these people believe the importance of the Link Road is underplayed in the report and that the congestion relief that would be provided by the Link Road could have a greater benefit for the local area than if the Acle Straight was to be dualled.

Blofield to North Burlingham Dualling

Only 5 letters commented on this issue. Four expressed their support and one person was opposed.

Public Transport Improvements

17 letters (3%) commented on public transport in the area. There was general support for the Consultants’ recommendations although it was felt that public transport improvements would not solve safety issues on the Acle Straight. Respondents requested better train and bus services between Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Norwich and more direct train services to Cambridge. There was support for later evening bus services to/from Norwich and improvements to the bus stations at Market Gates, Great Yarmouth and Thorpe Station, Norwich.

East Port, Great Yarmouth

As previously mentioned 53% of respondents believed that dualling the Acle Straight would support this initiative.

Broads Environment

There are mixed views on how the Preferred Plan and any scheme to dual the Acle Straight could impact on the environment of the area. 7% of respondents believe that this area of the Broads is not that important compared to other areas and that the Consultants’ environmental arguments against dualling are weak. However, 2% believe that it is important to minimise the environmental impact of transport in the area and therefore the widening scheme would be the best option to addresses safety concerns whilst minimising environment impact. As previously mentioned 4% believe that dualling the Acle Straight would not have a greater impact than proposals to widen the road.


Comments from Key Stakeholders

Broadland District Council endorses the report with the exception of its conclusions on the Acle Straight. While recognising that the widening of the Acle Straight would be far preferable to the status quo on safety grounds, the Council urge in the strongest possible terms that the Regional Planning Body support dualling of the Acle Straight on grounds of capacity, improving journey reliability and its European status.

The Broads Authority welcomes the publication of the study and supports:

  • investment in rail and bus infrastructure;
  • immediate implementation of the safety elements of the ‘best use’ option accompanied by comprehensive monitoring to evaluate its impact on road safety, particularly along the Acle Straight;
  • attaching great weight to safety and seeks further comparable case studies to substantiate the projected accident figures;
  • deletion of the national cycle route in the corridor and will continue to work with SUSTRANS to identify a more appropriate route;
  • the study’s recommendation that a study and assessment of the A149/A47 link be carried out;
  • in principle, measures which can be proved to result in economic regeneration throughout the corridor, but notes that neither the widening, nor the dualling of the eastern section of the A47 are expected by the consultants to have this effect; and
  • the Blofield to North Burlingham dualling.

The Authority objects to the inclusion of the full package in the Government’s transport investment programme before further detailed engineering designs have shown the full environmental impacts.

The Authority will consider supporting the widening of the A47 between Acle and Great Yarmouth subject to:

  • meeting a range of environmental criteria identified by the Authority
  • the outcome of the evaluation of implementing safety measures from the ‘best use’ option;
  • greater emphasis being placed on non-engineering measures to achieve safer driving;
  • further consideration of the effectiveness of a third river crossing and resultant impacts on the A47;
  • protection of a sustainable future of the adjacent Halvergate grazing marshes and their owners;
  • sufficient weight being given to impacts on the amenity of users, disturbance to overnight moorings and to waterside businesses on the Rivers Bure and Yare, which are also major thoroughfares through the Broads; and
  • cost benefit analysis of alternative methods of combating the perception of peripherality of Great Yarmouth.

The Authority requests that the Regional Assembly takes into consideration the need to protect the Broads when they consider the proposals. In addition, the Authority’s position statement of 1998 (as agreed with the Great Yarmouth Port Authority, Norfolk County Council, Broadland District Council and Great Yarmouth Brough Council) is viewed to be not appropriate in the light of the consultants report since the criteria cannot be met (the agreement was to support the dualling of the A47 and electrify the railway in principle if certain design criteria were met).

The Council for National Parks (CNP) welcomes the Best Use Package (Option 1) and requests that it be implemented immediately then monitored to assess safety benefits. CNP considers that any proposal to widen the Acle Straight on safety grounds should not be considered until this assessment of Option 1 has been undertaken. CNP in principle objects to the dualling of the Acle Straight because of the serious and irreversible impacts dualling would have on the Broads. With regard to widening, the CNP calls for detailed investigation of the potential environmental impacts and safety implications raising concerns over traffic reassignment from other routes and encouragement of more overtaking.

The Environment Agency question some of the work the Consultants have undertaken. While environmental impacts are considered for each of the study options the Agency is concerned about the lack of quantification and lack of clarity and consistency in identification of designated sites. The Agency’s letter highlights their environmental concerns and discusses flood risk in the area. Specifically the Agency:

  • does not support dualling of the Acle straight due to the impacts on European-designated wildlife sites and biodiversity, and would oppose any single-way carriageway improvements which would lead to easy dualling later
  • opposes the proposed A47-A149 Link Road on the grounds of its environmental impact and flood risk.
  • although there would be a small impact on biodiversity, supports the Blofield to North Burlingham dualling
  • supports Option 2 and is also cautiously supportive of Option 6a (widening of Acle Straight) although full judgement is reserved until the full details of the scheme are included in an EIA.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council has submitted a detailed response which is briefly summarised here. The Council is extremely disappointed at the Study’s recommendations not to:

  • Dual the Acle Straight
  • Construct the A47-A149 Link Road in advance of a Third River Yare Crossing study
  • Promote a sensible, sustainable transport package that reflects the town’s dire unemployment and social condition and gives recognition to the town as a port and gateway to the European mainland.

The Borough Council puts forward an argument for dualling the Acle Straight saying that it will reduce peripherality, improve safety and journey time reliability, and improve perceptions of the area which could lead to economic benefits. The recommendations supported by the Borough Council include:

  • The dualling of the Acle to Blofield stretch of the A47
  • General safety and junction improvements at Halvergate and at Burlingham
  • Public transport enhancement including the increase in bus/rail/coach frequencies
  • The proposed rail station and freight terminal access improvements

Norfolk Police Authority believe that on safety grounds alone there is a strong case for making the Acle Straight a dual carriageway. The Authority is concerned that the Consultants recommendations seem to rank environmental issues ahead of safety factors and that considerations of the economic future of Great Yarmouth have not been given sufficient weight.

Suffolk County Council supports the general principle of improving the A47 and the findings of the study. The Council would support action to control and manage the speed of traffic using the A47 and to introduce effective measures to enforce speed limits in order to further reduce the number of potential accidents and increase the reliability of journeys. Suffolk County Council would like to see the A47 between Norwich and Great Yarmouth and the A12 south of Great Yarmouth to Lowestoft re-numbered A11 in order to reinforce the longer distance links to London via the M11 and the Midlands via the A14. The measures to promote sustainable transport are supported. When widening the Acle Straight the Council is keen for it to remain open to avoid vehicle movements being diverted to less suitable roads.


Discussion of Consultants’ Recommendations


The consultants’ Preferred Plan is, in general, to be welcomed, except for the measures for the Acle Straight. Members may wish to confirm support for the Preferred Plan with the proviso that the County Council strongly supports dualling of the Acle Straight, rather than widening.


In addition to the Preferred Plan, the consultants have also made a number of ‘Other Recommendations.’ It is not clear how these fit into the Preferred Plan. It would appear that these are measures that could fit with the Preferred Plan, but further work would need to be done to investigate them. These measures are set out in Section 2.3. While these can generally be supported, there is concern that a decision in principle on the A47/A149 Link Road has been deferred. However, set against this is the support in principle of the Third River Crossing. This is considered further below.


There is concern that the proposals in the Preferred Plan may not coincide with County Council spending priorities and that the plan may not be affordable and could not be satisfactorily funded and implemented. Section 6 of this report deals in detail with the funding issue.


The following sections discuss each element of the Preferred Plan in more detail:

Best Use Package

This comprises a series of short-term measures that make better use of the existing transport infrastructure. They have valuable benefits but do not solve the longer-term problems of safety and congestion.

The report suggests that these measures could reduce accidents in the study area by 12% and provide benefits to public transport passengers and that they are also affordable measures which are highly likely to be implemented by public and private sector providers. Although not stated in the report, it is understood that the 50mph speed restriction would be removed if the Acle Straight was further improved.


The measures are broadly supported. Measures on the A47 would need to be brought forward by the Highways Agency. The report suggests that improvements to public transport would be instigated by public transport operators, but the mechanism for securing these is not clear.

Western Junctions

This involves significant improvements to junctions on the Great Yarmouth eastern approaches, although grade separation is not proposed. Significant time savings are forecast from the improvements to these junctions.


Members may wish to confirm support for the measures, although there is concern at whether all of the improvements could realistically be achieved. Any major construction work would clearly Consideration would be needed to the relative priority and funding mechanism of those on county roads (Fullers Hill/North Quay roundabout and Acle New Road/Rail station junction.) On trunk roads, Members may wish to press for the early implementation of those on trunk roads by the Highways Agency through its Trunk Road Programme.


Blofield to North Burlingham Dualling

This involves removing the "bottleneck" between two high-speed sections of dual carriageway. The study has revealed the following key points, leading to its inclusion in the Preferred Plan:

  • The scheme provides good value for money
  • Impacts on the majority of environmental factors is neutral or slightly adverse
  • Removal of the bottleneck would lead to more reliable journey times, even if average time savings per vehicle are small
  • There would be some reduction in traffic on local roads
  • There would be accident savings
  • The scheme has firm stakeholder support.


Members will wish to confirm strong support for the dualling and press for its early implementation by the Highways Agency through its Trunk Road Programme.


Acle Straight

The consultants’ report recommends widening the road to a modern standard two-lane cross section. This would comprise 9.3 metres of carriageway incorporating two 1 metre margin strips with 2.5 metre wide verges on both sides. The widening option has been chosen over dualling because it addresses the safety issues whilst creating less environmental impact.


The County Council has already expressed its serious concern that the Consultants’ Preferred Plan does not recommend dualling the A47 Acle Straight. This is clearly contrary to The Norfolk Structure Plan Policy T.9 which states that ‘the County Council supports dualling of the A47 east of Norwich to Great Yarmouth.’ Dualling is supported by most of those who have commented on the issue. The Council’s strong support for dualling the Acle Straight needs to be conveyed to the EELGC with cogent arguments and the support of a wide range of organisations and interests locally.


An examination of the economic, safety and environmental issues regarding the Acle Straight, which can form the basis of the County Council’s case, is set out in Appendix 2.


A47/A149 Link Road / Third River Crossing

The consultants state that the Third River Crossing cannot be incorporated in the Preferred Plan because its feasibility has first to be established. The report states that, from work carried out, constructing the Third River Crossing at the earliest opportunity would be likely to provide significantly greater benefits than the A47 / A149 Link Road. They state that they believe that there is a strong probability that proceeding with the Link could undermine the case for the Third River Crossing. The consultants point out that these are both major schemes, and that resources for such projects are limited. The report recommends work to investigate feasibility of the Third Crossing and, if this is confirmed, consideration given to the relative priority of the two schemes.



Both schemes are included in the Structure Plan. The Provisional Local Transport Plan, submitted in July 1999, contained a bid for the A149/A47 Link Road major scheme. In its response, Government stated "The A149/A47 Link is rejected…and we want to see its role and justification examined under (this) multi-modal study before any further submission is made."


Members may agree that in principle further study work on the Third River Crossing should be supported, particularly in relation to the benefits for the port area and the East Port project. In relation to the A47/A149 Link Road, it is not clear why the consultants see this as being an alternative to the Third River Crossing. The Link Road should remain a priority for the County Council as part of a solution to the bottleneck at the eastern end of the Acle Straight. In environmental terms such a road would form a ‘hard edge’ between urban Great Yarmouth and the Broads area. However, additional funding would need to be found to allow the feasibility and prioritising studies to be undertaken.


Postwick Park and Ride

The consultants’ report includes an investigation into the potential of a rail station at Postwick as an ‘other recommendation.’


Work carried out by the County Council indicates that little would be gained from pursuing a station at this site. The growth projections for the Park and Ride site indicate low potential to accommodate rail passengers to / from Great Yarmouth. However, should the Government wish to undertake more feasibility work, the County Council would be supportive of this, provided the work receives funding additional to the LTP settlement.


Traffic Calming and Sustainable Initiatives

The report recommends to "investigate scope to:

  • Introduce traffic calming / management on county roads
  • Sustainable and green tourism initiatives to reduce problems caused by exceptional peak traffic demands during holiday periods."


The LTP includes this type of measure. The capital programme in the LTP is broken down into six strategy areas, and, in particular, the strategy for the Broads area looks to achieve this type of measure. However, this element of the capital programme does not include substantial funding allocated to it. It will be for the County Council to give consideration to the relative priority of the measures suggested in the consultants’ report and how these may be funded.


The consultants’ report does not adequately address cycling issues. It does not state what provision should be made for cyclists in the corridor. (SUSTRANS is currently investigating three routes and the report does not refer to these.)


Resource Implications


Programming and Funding


The estimated total cost of the Preferred Plan is £41million (discounted to 1998 prices). The report indicates that there are a number of potential funding sources for the measures, including through the LTP process and the private sector (e.g. public transport operators). The report indicates the bodies that would be responsible for taking the measures forward. These details are include in Appendix 1, but in general are as follows:

  • Where the schemes are on the trunk roads this would be the Highways Agency (HA). Schemes brought forward by the HA would be through public sector funding through the HA’s targeted programme of improvements
  • Where the responsible body is the County Council, funds would need to be found from the Local Transport Plan capital programme. Bids for additional funding could be made as part of the LTP process
  • For public transport measures, the consultants’ report states that private sector bus and train operating companies, Railtrack and other infrastructure companies would be responsible. The report states that in order to achieve the implementation timetable "it will be important to ensure that appropriate and timely actions are taken to initiate the delivery of the recommended improvements." Whilst the County Council can work with these bodies to try and ensure the measures are implemented, this cannot be guaranteed. It would ultimately be the private companies’ responsibility to prioritise the measures against other potential improvements. In the case of measures such as improved frequency of service or new train rolling stock, therefore, it may be difficult to achieve the consultants’ recommendations.

The County Council has been indicated by the consultants as the responsible body for a number of their recommendations. These are set out below, together with a comment:

Preferred Plan

  1. Lingwood/Brundall/Blofield to Norwich bus services (in conjunction with public transport operators)
  • Higher frequency services could be funded by the public transport operators if they could be run on a commercial basis. If not, subsidy could be provided by the County Council, funded from revenue. Consideration would be needed as to the relative priority of funding these services from revenue, in comparison with other revenue funded services across the county.
  1. Feeder Service, Acle (in conjunction with public transport operators)
  • Funding mechanism as above for the feeder services. The recommendation also includes an improvement to the interchange at Acle. This would be funded from the LTP capital programme. Either this item can be included within the existing, agreed programme (and this would mean deferring other items) or a bid could be made to Government for additional funding through the LTP process.
  1. Feeder bus to Great Yarmouth bus station (in conjunction with public transport operators)
  • Funding mechanism as 1, above
  1. Rail station improvements (in conjunction with train operator and Strategic Rail Authority)
  • The consultants’ report recommends a survey to establish relative priorities of measures. These would involve, principally, staff resource in terms of time. Any recommended improvements would be funded from capital. Funding could come from the LTP programme in preference to other schemes. A bid for additional funding could be made through the LTP process.
  1. Great Yarmouth Rail Freight Terminal (in conjunction Highways Agency)
  • This improvement would have to be taken forward in partnership with the Highways Agency. Funding could be secured through the LTP capital programme as 4, above, with additional HA funding for improvement to the trunk road. The LTP programme does include sums for work for this in 01/02 and 02/03. However, current conditions on the rail network means that there is very limited freight activity at this time. The intention is to defer the item until freight activity increases. The item could be removed from the capital programme and a bid made for additional funding at a future time.
  1. Public transport information/facilities/quality bus
  • The LTP programme contains £200k per year (2002/03 – 2005/06) for as yet unspecified public transport bus shelter improvements. Improvements to the stops and shelters in the A47 and A12 corridor could be funded from this source, but consideration would have to be given to their relative priority in relation to other improvements across the county. A Quality Bus Partnership: Great Yarmouth to Lowestoft was included in the LTP bid, but not carried forward into the APR in order to reduce the overall size of the programme in line with the funding that has been indicated to be available. In order to re-instate this item, a bid for additional funding would have to be made.
  1. Fullers Hill/North Quay Roundabout
  • This work would have to be funded through the LTP capital programme. An additional bid through the LTP process could be made to take this work forward.
  1. Acle New Road/Rail station junction
  • As above

Other Recommendations

  1. Third Crossing to River Yare (in conjunction with Great Yarmouth Borough Council)
  • A study could be funded through the LTP process as above
  1. A47/A149 Link Road (in conjunction with Great Yarmouth Borough Council)
  • This work links with, and follows on from, 9, above. Funding as above
  1. Postwick Park and Ride (in conjunction with train operator)
  • A bid for additional funds could be made through the LTP process.
  1. Traffic calming and sustainable initiatives
  • Some measures are included in the LTP capital programme, but substantial funding is not allocated. The County Council will need to give consideration to the relative priority of the measures suggested in the consultants’ report and how these may be funded. Funding could be provided by prioritising such measures in preference to others in the capital programme. Alternatively, a bid for additional funds could be made through the LTP process.

As outlined above, the full capital programme put forward in the LTP was not fully funded by Government. This means that it will not be possible to implement all of the measures put forward in the LTP as necessary within a five-year timespan. The recommendations of the multi modal study include measures over and above those in the LTP. In addition, Members will be aware that, also on the agenda of this Review Panel, is a report regarding the relative priorities of transport schemes across the county. Arising from that report may be the need for funding for schemes also not included in the LTP.


All of these elements put increasing pressure on what may be funded from the LTP programme. Substantial changes to the five-year programme may mean that the aims, objectives and targets in the agreed LTP become increasingly difficult to attain.


For these reasons, it is recommended that Members agree that additional bids for funding (both for revenue and capital funding) are made to implement the consultants’ recommendations, rather than trying to fund the measures from the existing allocation.


To enable the consultants’ timetable to be met, bids for most of the actions where the County Council is named as being the responsible instigating body will need to be made with submission of the next LTP Annual Progress Report in July / August 2002.


Resource Implications


Property: Land acquisition will be required for most new schemes identified in the consultants’ report.


Information Technology: No significant additional information technology resources are anticipated.


Personnel: None.


Human Rights: The human rights implications of any highway or transport scheme that may form part of the proposals will need to be considered.

Action Required


Members are asked to

  • Recommend the comments in this report to Cabinet as the basis for the County Council’s formal response to the Consultants’ Preferred Plan.


Officer Contact(s):

Martin Shaw

David Cumming

on: 01603 222800

on:01603 224225

Background Document(s):

Norwich to Great Yarmouth Final Report October 2001

Norwich to Great Yarmouth Summary of the Preferred Plan