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Roads to Nowhere

Norwich Northern Distributor Road

For more news on this campaign, visit the Norwich and Norfolk Transport Action Group's (NNTAG's) new NDR website: http://www.notondr.org.uk

Latest updates:

April 2014: The road is starting the examination process, which will run from June 2014. When the application was submitted, local campaigners encouraged local people to register as official 'interested parties' objecting the road. The project now has 1,192 people registered to take part in the examination - a record for a road project.

March 2014:  The chance to object to the Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR) ends at midnight on Sunday 23 March.  See our blog on this and for more information about the scheme visit NNTAG's website.  NNTAG got a record number of people to object to the road to reinforce the results of previous consultations showing strong opposition to it.

January 2014: The Postwick Hub junction scheme from the Highways Agency was given planning permission by the Government after a public inquiry despite a negative benefit-cost ratio of -2.9. This appalling value for money was set aside because the junction creates space for the new business park - News story

A planning application has also been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for the NDR project. Local Greens are calling for this not to be accepted as the status of the road was changed half way through they consultation so a new consultation is needed - story on their website. Registration for objectors is expecting to begin in March.

August 2013: the NNDR is being put through the 'Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project' planning process.

This makes Norfolk County Council's pre-application consultation very significant and it is really important that as many people as possible respond and say that they want to see the scheme cancelled in favour of better public transport, walking and cycling schemes for Norwich.


The NNDR is a huge road to open up countryside for development, along with a massive roundabout no-one needs, called the Postwick Hub.

In December 2011, ministers announced funding had been awarded to the NNDR. The scheme still needs planning permission and a public inquiry for the related Postwick Hub roundabout, paid for by the Highways Agency, is expected to come first.

Read our press release here

Plans for the Norwich Northern Distributor Route (NNDR) include two separate elements, costing a total of £113 million:

  • A 20 km bypass and development road around the North East of Norwich, passing close to the airport.
  • An over-engineered £21m gyratory system at Postwick, a village 3 miles east of Norwich (the ‘Postwick Hub’) to connect the proposed bypass to the existing A47.

Why this is a road to nowhere:

Plans for an extended road around Norwich have been rejected several times over recent years. Campaigners and expert consultants have found the same problems with each set of proposals:

  • Evidence does not support the proposal that the NNDR is needed to create road space for buses and other sustainable measures in the City, 3-4 miles to the south and west. It in fact points to the opposite conclusion: a road built so far out will not seriously affect traffic within the City, but it will create a lot more traffic on the radial roads that connect to it.
  • Expert scrutiny of the development plan for the Norwich area shows that the road itself would cause most of the predicted new traffic in north east Norwich, rather than the new housing developments planned for the area.
  • The plans for both the NDR and for Postwick Hub have never been properly tested against alternatives, although both local campaigners and developers have called for alternatives. 
  • The NDR-centred transport policy, promoted by Norfolk County Council, will lead to greater vehicle use, greater journeys and greater congestion that will prevent any future development of a transport strategy that integrates sustainable modes and modal shift.
  • From the start, the road would generate 25,000 extra tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, which is not consistent with national government policies.

Developer plans for housing in the area nearby, including a new ‘eco-town’ and at least one other green development, do not depend on having a new road nearby. Indeed, these developments are designed to minimise car use and need additional public transport provision not a large road.

At a recent planning inquiry for the area’s Joint Core Strategy (JCS), the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP) admitted that all of their new housing plans until at least 2017 (over 12000 new homes) could go ahead without the bypass:

GNDP were clear in their response to the planning inspector that smaller, more gradual improvements to the Postwick junction area would produce the same economic benefits as the massive scheme linked with the NDR. These changes would be much cheaper and could be paid for using local funds, with no government subsidy.

Local campaigners:

The Norwich and Norfolk Transport Action Group run the campaign against the NDR, and are collecting postcards from concerned local residents to send to the Department for Transport.

They say:

“The Northern Distributor Route would substantially increase the number of car journeys taking place and take money away from public transport improvements and road safety schemes. We have argued all along for a ‘Plan B’ that focuses on developing derelict sites, meeting local housing needs, providing good public transport links and creating local jobs.”


Better ideas:

Lower carbon alternatives for Norwich have been ignored by Norfolk County Council. Greens and developers have proposed more modest ‘fit for purpose’ improvements at the Postwick junction to support housing and businesses, as well as better ways to improve city centre congestion.

The alternative proposals for Postwick junction can also link to a developer funded single carriageway inner orbital road link between A47 Postwick Interchange and A1151 Wroxham. This is shown on the map on the right: all elements of the route are already in the Broadland plan except for short and easily closed gap between Salhouse Road and Plumstead Road East, alongside Racecourse Plantation.

A smaller, slower inner road was one of the original NDR consultation options, but was never developed into a serious alternative by Norfolk County Council.  The second map shows how such an inner link road could eventually be extended from Postwick to the A140 north of the Airport if required.

These ideas of modest new small-scale roads for North East Norwich combined with a high quality public transport network, and walking and cycling improvements would be far more effective than an expensive and harmful bypass.  They are a genuine ‘Plan B’, which the County Council and the GNDP refuse to contemplate.

Campaign for Better Transport's view:

Drawing on the views of expert consultants and local campaigners, in 2011 we submitted detailed objections to the NDR's funding proposal to the Department for Transport.

You can also download the local campaigners' presentation and the technical report from the transport experts:

Everyone can help stop the Norwich Northern Distributor Road

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Go ahead for Norwich, whilst Hastings is spared

Does ‘Hubgate’ spell more trouble for the Norwich Northern Distributor?