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Fight for town bypass will continue after report dismisses plan

PUBLISHED: 18:00 11 March 2019 | UPDATED: 22:04 12 March 2019

Swaffham town centre. Some residents and businesses have been pushing for a bypass to take pressure off the main road through town for decades. 
PHOTO: IAN BURT

Swaffham town centre. Some residents and businesses have been pushing for a bypass to take pressure off the main road through town for decades. PHOTO: IAN BURT

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Advocates of a bypass around a busy Norfolk market town say they "won't give up the fight" after a report said the project would be "difficult to justify".

Norfolk County Councillor Ed Colman. Picture: Norfolk County CouncilNorfolk County Councillor Ed Colman. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Businesses and residents of Swaffham have been pushing for a north-south relief road to take pressure off the town’s Market Square since the 1970s.

But a new report commissioned by Norfolk County Council has put a damper on the plan.

The Market Town Transport Network Improvement Strategies report released last week recommended a range of projects across the county go ahead, but a bypass from the A1065 Brandon Road in Swaffham’s south to the A47 or Castle Acre Road to its north was not one of them.

Kate Gordon, who chairs Swaffham Town Council’s transport and access group, said the findings did not tally with the need for a bypass they saw on a daily basis.

She said: “Our reaction is ‘it’s never say die’. We are now the only town in Norfolk which has a major road going through the heart of the town.

!We’ve done our own studies, counting the lorries, and we know what the volume of traffic is.

“We won’t accept this report as the final word and we’re working with Breckland and county council to mitigate the effect of those lorries.

“We’re also a town that’s been designated as having a serious air pollution problem - we’ve actually exceeded the legal limit. Of course there’s a connection between the lorries going through and air pollution in the centre of Swaffham.”

Colin Houghton, town mayor, said: “We would very much welcome a debate about [the bypass]. The question is, where would it go? It’s very embryonic at the moment - it’s an aspiration.”

MORE: Residents urged to join bypass protest

Ed Colman, county councillor for Swaffham, said he saw the upside of the report, which also said that minor improvements to the Station Street/Mangate Street junction could improve the traffic flow, and providing access to Theatre Street car park from the south “appears feasible”.

Mr Colman said: “I know [the report’s comments on a bypass] will be disappointing for some, but I know it will also be a relief for many business owners in the town. The report concludes that access to the car park from the south is feasible, and it’s something I’m eager to work closely with county council officers to get implemented.

“I believe the report provides us with a real platform to build on for the future of Swaffham.”

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