The government authority responsible for overseeing projects of national importance, has started its examination into Suffolk County Council’s proposed Lake Lothing Third Crossing project in Lowestoft.
Following a preliminary meeting held at The Ivy House Country Hotel in Oulton Broad on 5 December 2018, the Planning Inspectorate has now started its six month examination during which there will be several opportunities for people to provide more details of their views on the project.
The first stage of this examination was an open floor hearing at which local leaders Peter Aldous MP, Councillor Mark Bee (leader of Waveney District Council) and Councillor Matthew Hicks (leader of Suffolk County Council) all spoke to give their full backing to the project.
Peter Aldous MP, said: “Since I’ve been a Member of Parliament from 2010, it has become very clear to me that this is the issue in the Lowestoft area for which there is the strongest level of public support. There has been that level of support long before I became the MP. [The Third Crossing] can be a catalyst for regeneration and it can help generate a vibrant can-do attitude, that Lowestoft is very much a place to be.”
Cllr Matthew Hicks, said: “Suffolk County Council has been involved in many consultations, but I think the consultation that was held in Lowestoft was quite unique – to have 1,500 respondents in the Autumn of 2017 of which 96% said that they wanted this project to go forward. This is a real key indicator and extremely significant of the community’s feeling around this bridge. It will play an important part in Lowestoft, but also across East Suffolk and in fact across the whole county. We see this as a really important flagship project.”
Cllr Mark Bee, said: “There is a missing link in the middle of the current road network and that missing link is a bridge over Lake Lothing. We have never been closer than we are now, in making this dream a reality. The community wants this bridge to be built and we, in this generation, want to deliver it.”
Also speaking in favour of the project were representatives from other local and regional organisations such as Lowestoft Town Council, Chamber of Commerce and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.
Chris Starkie, Chief Executive at New Anglia LEP, said: “This is a vital project as we look to unlock further investment along our all-energy coast – the only place in the UK where oil, gas, nuclear and renewable energy exist together and a key contributor to the nation’s energy supply. The new Lake Lothing crossing will open up opportunities for regeneration and development and attract new investment in the local economy. And the benefits are more than economic, with reduced congestion and improved safety for all transport users in the Lowestoft area.”
Once complete, the crossing will bring many benefits to the area, such as reducing congestion in the town and improving connections between the north and south of Lowestoft. The road network will be able to operate more efficiently, and the iconic design of the bridge presents the opportunity to introduce a new focal point for the town, enhancing its identity. It will also help to regenerate the area and attract new investment for the local economy.
At the end of the examination period, the examining authority from the Planning Inspectorate will have three months to submit its report and recommendation for the project to the relevant Secretary of State. The Secretary of State will then have a further three months to grant or refuse development consent for the much-needed crossing to be built, meaning a decision should be known in December 2019.