The road to a bright future in Lowestoft
- Credit: Mike Page
Plans for a new Bascule Bridge and proposals to end long-standing traffic problems at Oulton Broad North station form part of an ambitious package of measures to rejuvenate Lowestoft, The Journal can reveal.
Improving flood defences, creating new park and ride sites and launching new steam train services to boost tourism are also among the objectives of an 83-page transport and infrastructure prospectus which aims to revive the town's economic fortunes and attract 'jobs and business to Lowestoft'.
However, a new third crossing for the town remains a distant hope.
Drawn up by Waveney District Council and Suffolk County Council, along with public and private sector partners, the new prospectus sets out plans to ease congestion through key road and rail improvements; increase the capacity of the port; protect homes and businesses from flooding; and stimulate development.
With a slogan of 'Moving Lowestoft Forward', the document contains a number of key objectives, which are classified as short term (one to five years), medium term (five to 10 years) or long term (10+ years) proposals.
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?Short term – changes to signalling and operation of crossing gates serving Oulton Broad north rail station;
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?Short to medium term – introducing private sector-led steam train services on the Wherry and East Suffolk lines;
?Short to medium term – new strategic river and tidal flooding protection measures;
?Medium to long term – limited park and ride sites to the north, south and west of Lowestoft;
?Medium to long term – replacing/moving the bascule bridge in conjunction with the location of a third crossing;
?Medium to long term – improvements to the connectivity between the north and south sides of Lake Lothing;
?Longer term – reintroduction of freight transport to Lowestoft;
?Longer term – potential relocation of Oulton Broad North rail station;
?Longer term – widening of the port access channel near the existing bascule bridge.
A steering group has been formed to take the proposals forward.
It will be led by Waveney MP Peter Aldous, with representatives from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, the county council, Waveney council, the Environment Agency, the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce.
Development of the plans will be led by a separate major project team, comprising representatives of the partner organisations and key stakeholders, including the Highways Agency and Associated British Ports.
With many people in Lowestoft claiming the only answer to the town's transport problems is a third crossing, the prospectus says: 'Significant work has been done in recent years to understand the feasibility and costs of a new north-south road, which would have to cross Lake Lothing and the railway.
'It is clear that the scale of such a project, which would cost around £100m, means that delivery has to be seen as a long term proposal for which the majority of funding would have to come from central government.
'Therefore, the partners have taken the approach that whilst a third crossing remains a high priority, and any opportunities that may arise to advance its delivery should be taken, there are a number of other interventions that could be made in the short to medium term to improve and increase travel opportunities in Lowestoft in order to support the town's growth and ensure its prosperity.'
Launching the new prospectus, Mr Aldous said: 'This document provides the blueprint for the change that we need; the framework within which a variety of proposals can take place over the next 10-15 years that will help bring jobs and business to Lowestoft, enable the port to realise its full potential, will improve access to environments surrounding the town centre and the beach area and will alleviate and unlock the pinch points in the local road system.'
Andy Wood, chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: 'Lowestoft is fantastically placed to take advantage of the economic opportunities presented by developments in the energy sector and related industries over the next few years. The development of the Enterprise Zone in the town will help bring new jobs and businesses.'
County council leader, Mark Bee, said: 'With the major new opportunities emerging for offshore energy development the town is well placed to benefit in terms of jobs and businesses growth. Having modern and adequate transport and infrastructure in place is key to maximising on inward investment opportunities.'
Waveney council's leader, Colin Law, added: 'This document is one of the most important we have developed and shows commitment by Suffolk and Waveney along with stakeholders and partners to work together to improve the Lowestoft infrastructure.'
? The document is now online via www.waveney.gov.uk/prospectus ? What do you think? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Postbox, The Journal, 147, London Road North, Lowestoft, NR32 1NB including your name and address.