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WHAT DO YOU THINK? Lowestoft third-crossing plans given a warm welcome

PUBLISHED: 19:00 26 July 2012

EDP pics © 2007

AMBITIOUS proposals to create a third crossing in Lowestoft received a warm welcome when the scheme drawn up by businessman Peter Colby won support at a public meeting.

Mr Colby has drawn up plans for a new tidal barrier across Lake Lothing which, he believes, will boost links, improve flood defences and open up land for regeneration.

During a public meeting at the Hotel Victoria last Thursday, most of the 100 people present voiced their support for the proposals as a way of easing traffic congestion and helping businesses thrive.

However, concerns were raised by the owner of one manufacturing business amid claims that the plans for a new road – linking the north and the south of the town – would encroach on its land at Kirkley Ham.

Speaking after the presentation, Mr Colby urged people to contact their local councillors to encourage the county and the district council to back the project, which he estimates will cost about £30m.

Mr Colby, who presented the plans with Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, Bob Blizzard, said: “I have seen the demise of Lowestoft. I remember when there was so much work that if you didn’t have a job it was embarrassing. I own a company called Polgain, which is part of the old Zephyr Cams business, but I can’t get people because nobody has taught the people of Lowestoft trades.

“There are not many trades because there is not a great deal of business. And why is this? Because we have a traffic system which blights Lowestoft.”

Mr Colby says his project – which is based on the same principle as the North Sea polder dams in Holland – would help improve Lowestoft’s transport system by providing a new crossing over Lake Lothing, including a road bridge over the rail line.

He says the barrier would also protect the town from rising sea levels – thereby opening up 120 acres of “derelict” dockside land for redevelopment – and allow ships to travel in and out of the port via a lock and two lifting bridges, which would minimise disruption to road traffic.

But while the majority of people backed the proposals at the meeting, some thought a road traffic tunnel would be a more efficient and others questioned whether Associated British Ports would allow construction on its land.

Mr Colby said funds could be found for the project now by using the £6.2m earmarked for a new cycle and pedestrian bridge over Lake Lothing and improvements around the town’s station, the £10m needed for offices to replace Lowestoft Town Hall, the money spent on reorganising the NHS locally and the sum associated with setting up the controversial Beccles Free School.

He added: “I am going to put a planning application in so we can begin to seek planning permission.”

Speaking immediately after the meeting, the mayor of Lowestoft, Nick Webb, said: “This is a scheme that will benefit the town from the retail side and will encourage industry to come back again. This is vital for the town’s long-term future.”

Among those at the meeting was Steve Read, a retired chartered civil engineer from Oulton Broad. He said: “It looks like a viable plan. I think the fact that it allows derelict land to be developed is an extremely important point, but without the support of Suffolk County Council it is never going to happen.”

Meanwhile, Norman Blowers, 74, a part-time car salesman at John Grose Lowestoft, said: “I have worked in Lowestoft all my life and it used to be full of industry.

“The Bascule bridge has always been a problem and with this new crossing it will help get Lowestoft back on the map.”

Five years ago, Peter Colby’s enterprise, Peter Colby Commercials Ltd, produced a Lake Lothing Regeneration report, which first proposed the building of a tidal barrage. But this was dismissed by the Highways Agency in 2009.

One person at the meeting who raised concerns about the proposals was Pam Oakes, director of the lift-truck division of Nexen Group, which has its manufacturing base on Riverside Road, next to Lake Lothing. She said: “My colleagues and I were astounded to learn that our site was included within the area of the proposed third river crossing. While I totally back the campaign for another river crossing in Lowestoft, there is other empty land further down Lake Lothing that could be much more easily utilised.”

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