Councillor says West Norfolk could 'stagnate' without Western Link

North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick.

Tom FitzPatrick, county councillor for Fakenham. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

Fakenham’s county councillor believes that if the area does not obtain some benefits from the proposed Western Link it will stagnate.

Tom FitzPatrick, county councillor for Fakenham, was speaking about the benefits of investing in infrastructure, like roads and businesses in the town as they look to develop with help from the possible funding from the UK Community Renewal Fund.

The new link will be used to connect the Norwich Northern Distributor Road to the A47.

The route of the Western Link.

The route of the proposed Western Link. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Mr FitzPatrick believes that the new link will be good news for a range of sectors in the west of the county, but has warned that if people in the area did not make sure they benefit from the road, they will be left behind.

“My understanding is that those who live in the areas currently blighted by rat-running through to the A47 are generally in favour (of the link),” he said.

“From the perspective of those of us living to the west and north-west, I believe that it will bring benefits in terms of people being more able to easily access this area which will benefit our tourist, business and leisure offering.

Tom FitzPatrick at the Hempton crossroads, where he hopes a new roundabout will be built.

Tom FitzPatrick at the Hempton crossroads, where he hopes a new roundabout will be built. - Credit: Tom FitzPatrick

“If we do not seek to make sure that this area derives at least some benefit from this sort of project we will lose out to other parts of the county.

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“The danger is that we will not simply be left unchanged, but will stagnate.”

The new link has divided opinion across Norfolk, businesses, including Norwich International Airport, Chantry Place and First buses support it. While there is opposition from Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Norfolk Rivers Trust, the Campaign To Protect Rural England, campaigners Stop The Wensum Link and The Bat Conservation Trust.

He also believes the benefits from the new Western Link will be a positive thing for people not only in Norwich but across Norfolk, highlighting better and easier access for tourism, both coastal and inland and reduced the time it takes to get to Norfolk and Norwich hospital.

Further questions are to be asked about the controversial £198m mooted link road after councillors 'called in' a decision by the Conservative-controlled cabinet of Norfolk County Council.