Fight on to pay for Yarmouth third river crossing

Sarah HallNorfolk has a real fight on its hands to secure the funding for the long awaited third river crossing in Great Yarmouth, councillors have warned.Sarah Hall

Norfolk has a real fight on its hands to secure the funding for the long awaited third river crossing in Great Yarmouth, councillors have warned.

At a meeting last month Norfolk County Council's cabinet agreed a route for the crossing, with a dual carriageway 50m span bascule bridge over the river Yare.

The bridge would cross the river from the bottom of Southtown Road to the South Denes peninsula and at a meeting of the county council yesterday councillors praised the agreement for the scheme.

Yarmouth North councillor Tom Garrod said he was delighted a route had been agreed and James Shrimplin, who represents East Flegg division, said: 'It has been needed now for some considerable time. I congratulate the cabinet and look forward to the day when I can go from Yarmouth to Gorleston without queuing up.'

But while councillors hailed the decision, a sombre warning was issued that problems finding funding for the bridge, which could cost up to �122m, could hamper progress on the scheme, with the possibility cash might not be available until after 2016.

Adrian Gunson, cabinet member for planning and transportation at County Hall, said: 'The key thing now is to get finance from outside the county council for it.

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'The county council has spent �1.12m so far developing the scheme, not counting the costs incurred between 2003 and 2006 in building the Great Yarmouth traffic model which was part of the justification for the wider transport strategy.

'So far as funding is concerned we will have to continue to try hard. The crossing is a priority B with no funding attached at regional level.

'However, there is also the national level to aim at. We also need to consider other measures of financing such as tolling, although public reaction to that shows not enough people would be prepared to pay a toll to reduce congestion.

'Alternatives to tolling could be using a Private Finance Initiative or other private finance, such as developer contributions.

'However, that might not be very likely to be forthcoming, particularly because there is not much development at the moment and land prices in that part of Yarmouth are quite low, as some of the land will need to be decontaminated before it can be sold.

'I am well aware that we need to press ahead with the financial aspect of supporting the third river crossing and we intend to do that with all speed.'

Owners of the 35 homes in Queen Anne's Road and Southtown Road which could be demolished to make way for the bridge can ask for compensation if they cannot sell their homes once the plans have been adopted.

Other property owners who see a 15pc reduction in their property's value or face noise pollution could also have their homes bought by the council, with money from the 2010/11 budget due to be set aside for any house purchases.