Lowestoft Lake Lothing: No third crossing blights town

Aerial view of Bascule Bridge, Lowestoft Image copyright Mike Page
Image caption The challenge of building the third crossing has been considered many times over the years

For nearly 80 years the case has been made for a third crossing over Lake Lothing in Lowestoft, but requests to governments of all persuasions have fallen on deaf ears.

The proposed improvements to the A47 should finally trigger that development, according to the town's MP.

Peter Aldous put the case for a third crossing in parliament. Lake Lothing splits the town in two, he explained and the two existing crossings simply can't cope.

"Congestion frequently builds up, particularly when the Bascule Bridge opens to allow vessels into and out of the inner harbour.

"A poor road network has blighted the town for a long time. It is a disincentive to people to go into the town and is preventing businesses from moving there or expanding there," said Mr Aldous.

And that's the nub of it - investment is needed if this old fishing port is to transform its fortunes.

"The challenge of building the third crossing has been considered many times over the years... The bridge will bring benefits not only to north Suffolk but to East Anglia and the United Kingdom, by developing the regional economy," he added.

Mr Aldous believes that poor infrastructure to and around the town has hampered attempts to attract new businesses to the area.

Good transport links

In December the government announced an initial investment of £300m for upgrading the A47 which although Mr Aldous welcomes "it is not the endgame," he said.

"It is only the beginning of a campaign for a full dual carriageway link from Lowestoft to the A1.

"It would create an estimated additional 17,000 jobs and an increase of £706m per annum in economic output across the region.

"The new upgraded A47 now starts on the south bank of Lake Lothing which provides the context within which we can now plan for the third crossing."

Speaking for the government Transport Minister Robert Goodwill was very encouraging.

"I visited Lake Lothing and Lowestoft on 4 July as a prelude to my epic road trip along the A12/A47 that culminated at Peterborough. I know that the road is very important," he said.

He acknowledged that Lowestoft is an important centre in Suffolk and the East of England and it has started to develop as a key centre of the renewable energy industry in the UK.

The case for good transport links may be evident but Mr Goodwill was forced to admit that although the A47 will see £300m worth of investment, decisions over transport schemes like this are made locally.

"Many local transport schemes, such as the third crossing over Lake Lothing, will look for funding to further rounds of the local growth fund.

"However, the process is competitive and the funding is not a bottomless pit.

"Only the projects that produce the most compelling business case will be successful in securing funding and they will also need to be top priorities for the LEP, as it determines which schemes are needed to deliver economic growth in the LEP area."

Although Mr Goodwill told Mr Aldous to look to his LEP he did emphasise the momentum behind the project - so maybe there is some hope that the 80 year deadlock could be broken.

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