How bypass will change town after nearly a century of campaigning
- Credit: Norfolk Homes
After almost a century, the future of the Long Stratton bypass finally looks secured - the only difficulty for councillors now is convincing people it's going to happen.
The government committed more than £26m of funding towards the building of a new bypass for the A140, meaning traffic will no longer have to go through the centre of Long Stratton.
Transport bosses at County Hall say the new road will cut congestion and support the local economy, with the Department of Transport's funding making up more than half of the road's overall £37.44m cost.
"For me, one of the key issues is the volume of traffic that goes through Long Stratton," said Alison Thomas, South Norfolk councillor and road campaigner.
“It makes our air quality really poor, it makes safety worse, it’s a high volume of traffic that comes through just wanting to get from A to B and at the moment it is so noisy you can’t have a conversation with people in the street.
“I’m very much hoping it will make Long Stratton a place where people want to spend time and give it a community feel.
“Maybe it will help retail outlets because people will want to stop and chat.”
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The bypass will be a single carriageway of just under 4km, leaving the existing A140 at Church Lane before re-joining just south of Oakside farm.
Plans for the bypass were originally drawn up three years ago, but a revised version was submitted in March.
Locals have been calling for a bypass since the 1930s and after so many decades of campaigning and proposals falling through, Ms Thomas said the issue now was convincing people it was happening.
Ms Thomas herself has been fighting for the bypass since she moved to Long Stratton in the 1990s, taking part in a campaign that aimed to get the road sorted by the new millennium.
Part of her motivation was wanting to make sure her own children could walk home safely from school without being at risk.
Those children have now grown up and left school but Ms Thomas has continued the fight.
“One person said to me the other day ‘this won't be done in my lifetime’, I said it’s meant to be done by 2024 and I hope you will still be here then.
“The fact that I’m getting invited to meetings to discuss how members are going to scrutinise the plans and ensure the process will happen makes me more and more confident we’re going to get it - it’s becoming more of a reality.”
Ms Thomas said they want to ensure any kinks were worked out before it gets to the planning committee so that nothing holds the plans up.
While stopping flooding cannot be a condition of development, Ms Thomas hoped elements in the plans – such as attenuation ponds – could reduce the chance of more flooding, which last year forced her and many others from their homes.
Ms Thomas' thoughts were echoed by the leader of South Norfolk Council, John Fuller, who said: "The planning application to approve the Long Stratton bypass is due to be approved within weeks not months and the funding is in place to deliver the important Long Stratton bypass, which will link Norwich with Ipswich more conveniently for business, but immeasurably improve the air quality and aspect of Long Stratton, and making that a superb place to live.
"Let's not ignore that local campaigners have fought for around 80 years, nearly a century, for their village to be bypassed."
The target date for work to start on construction is midway through 2023, with the road open to traffic before the end of 2024 - subject to planning approval.
An application should go before the planning committee by the end of the year or early next.