Transport secretary backs 'iconic' new Lowestoft road bridge

The transport secretary has approved plans for a new road bridge at Lowestoft in Suffolk after concluding that the development would deliver an "iconic new work of architectural engineering", cut traffic congestion and support social and economic activity.

A visualisation of the new bridge. (Pic: WSP)
A visualisation of the new bridge. (Pic: WSP)

Suffolk County Council's plans for the Lake Lothing Third Crossing, submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in August 2018, propose a new road bridge across the Lake Lothing waterway.

The new link would connect Riverside Road to the south of Lake Lothing with Peto Way to the north of the waterway. 

According to the council, the objectives of the scheme include opening up "opportunities for regeneration and development in Lowestoft"; reducing "community severance between north and south Lowestoft"; reducing "congestion and delay on the existing bridges over Lake Lothing"; and reducing congestion in the town centre and improving accessibility.

The plans, which were recommended for consent by the Planning Inspectorate, were approved by transport secretary Grant Shapps last week.

A decision letter issued on behalf of the minister noted that the scheme had originally been opposed by Associated British Ports (ABP) which owns and operates the Port of Lowestoft. The proposed road link would cross land forming part of the port.

According to the PINS report, ABP had argued that the scheme would be "seriously detrimental to the viability of the port" because it would involve the loss of berthing and quayside space.

However, the secretary of state's letter noted that the applicant and ABP had reached an agreement on 2 April 2020 and, as a consequence, ABP had formally withdrawn its objection to the development.

Details on this agreement are not provided in the decision letter. However, the letter said that ABP had advised that it would only withdraw its opposition if the applicant was prepared to provide a package of mitigation measures, including the provision of replacement berthing.

The letter concluded that the proposed development "would provide additional capacity that would help to reduce traffic congestion, improve journey times and support social and economic activity in accordance with the government's vision and strategic objectives."

It added that the secretary of state also agreed with the Planning Inspectorate that the proposal "has an aspirational aesthetic component to its design, delivering an iconic new work of architectural engineering".

Consultancy WSP has been advising the county council on the plans.

On Wednesday, the government delivered a written statement to parliament that gave new decision deadlines for several development consent order applications. They are:

West Midlands Strategic Rail Freight Interchange: 5 May (originally due 27 January);
A63 Castle Street Hull: 31 May (originally due 24 March);
A303 Sparkford to Ilchester: 17 July (originally due 12 December); and
A303 Stonehenge: 17 July (originally due 2 April).

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