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'We need an explanation' - anger as county council says measure to ease town gridlock is 'undeliverable'

PUBLISHED: 11:33 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 20:18 19 March 2019

A typical scene of busy traffic on Tavern Lane, Dereham. Picture: ARCHANT.

A typical scene of busy traffic on Tavern Lane, Dereham. Picture: ARCHANT.

Archant

Serious questions have been asked by councillors about why an expected road improvement tied to housing growth in Dereham has been deemed "undeliverable".

A typical scene of busy traffic on Tavern Lane, Dereham. Picture: ARCHANTA typical scene of busy traffic on Tavern Lane, Dereham. Picture: ARCHANT

Plans to introduce a signalised roundabout at Tavern Lane were put forward in a transport study, produced by Breckland Council in consultation with Dereham Town Council and Norfolk County Council (NCC).

The Dereham Transport Study identified the highways changes required if housing growth in the Breckland Local Plan was to be approved.

But the county council said the Dereham Network Improvement Strategy, approved at a transport committee meeting earlier this month, found the Tavern Lane roundabout would “involve significant third party land and so is not considered deliverable by the highway authority.”

And town councillors have now written to the county council to demand an explanation.

READ MORE: ‘Seriously faulty’ methods used for Dereham Transport Study, says town council

An email to NCC, sent on behalf of the town council, by clerk Tony Needham, said: “It is unfortunate the county council was unable to properly assess the transport study when it was produced or before the housing growth in Dereham was approved.”

He invited a representative to attend their April town council meeting to explain “how [they] intend to address this mistake by identifying alternative schemes.”

Labour town councillor Harry Clarke said: “There are serious questions to answer. We need an explanation as to why areas of the study turned out to be undeliverable.”

He added: “This issue is important for future generations.”

READ MORE: ‘You need to get it right or you’re going to regret it if you don’t’ - Urgent calls to tackle town’s gridlocked traffic

Green councillor Philip Morton added: “I think if people had known at the time, their decision might have been different.”

Mayor Hilary Bushell called the decision “disappointing”, while Conservative councillor Kate Millbank said traffic in Dereham “had been a nightmare for years.”

A town council spokesman said: “There is no plan to mitigate traffic growth in Dereham.

“If, as predicted, congestion gets worse in the next seven years, people will stop visiting, businesses will be reluctant to locate to a gridlocked town, and quality of life will be reduced.”

An NCC spokesman said: “We must focus on improvements that are deliverable, answer a clear need and have funding available to take forward.

“We have been working very closely with local people, including the town council, and have swiftly completed several improvements that were identified in the district council study in 2016, and our Dereham Network Improvement Strategy 2018/19.”

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