Troubled Norwich scheme faces price hikes again

The Norwich Northern Distributor Road has run into further trouble, with Norfolk County Council warning there is a ‘high risk of a significant increase in cost beyond the £178.9m budget’ but refusing to reveal how much more cash it could pay out.

In 2015, a shortfall of £29.9m had to be found to advance the scheme after the price leapt up from an estimate of £148m in 2013 to the target cost of £178m.

The Department for Transport, which put in a further £10m, admitted at the time it had to break with its ‘long standing policy of not providing additional funding’, which set a ‘difficult precedent’.

A report to council members on 3 July, which referred to a total budget of £179.5m, cited ‘environmental and/or contractor factors affecting construction progress’ as the cause for the extra cost.

A spokesman for the council said that in December last year the figure of £6.8m was mooted as possible extra cost however senior sources close to the council told Highways the figure could run to tens of millions. The spokesman said he did not recognise that figure.

He added that the council could not reveal how much more would be spent on the scheme, which is due to open spring 2018, as it could damage cost negotiations with contractor Balfour Beatty.

The scheme still has the backing of the council. A DfT spokesperson said it ‘is making good progress’.

Balfour Beatty declined to comment.

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