The Lake Lothing Third Crossing would, as its name suggests, be the third bridge over the estuary in Lowestoft.
The county council received confirmation of approval from transport secretary Grant Shapps after a development consent order process that began in July 2018 when the application was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.
The Lake Lothing Third Crossing would link from Waveney Drive on the south side to Denmark Road and Peto Way on the north side of Lake Lothing. The multi-span bridge includes a rolling bascule opening section and a section to span the East Suffolk rail line on the north side of the water. The new bridge will have a 12-metre air draft height, enabling smaller vessels to pass underneath without an opening.
The council is currently evaluating bids from contractors to build it. BAM Nuttall was awarded a stage one contract to finalise the design of the bridge in 2018 but failed to agree terms with the council to move to the main construction phase, forcing the council to go back out to tender. A stage two contract notice was published in autumn 2019, disclosing a price estimate of £68m, reduced from the previous £90m estimate at stage one.
Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks said: “We now have the seal of planning approval to build a third crossing for Lowestoft, which is very good news. The crossing can make a significant difference as we continue to invest in the area. I’m confident that people will see positive changes, from their daily commute to the wider regeneration of the area.”
Suffolk County Council had expected a decision from the government in December 2019, but the general election and ministerial changes delayed the sign-off.
Councillor Hicks added: “This is a significant step forward, and we will continue to make good progress behind the scenes in these unprecedented and challenging times. The tender period for construction contractors comes to an end later in May and we are concluding our final business case to access the funding from the government.”
The next stage is a cabinet meeting in July 2020 that will consider the detail of the planning permission, the outcome of the construction tendering process, the final project cost estimate and the timetable for the project.
If all goes well, the July cabinet report is expected to authorise senior managers to choose a construction contractor, complete the final business case for the Department for Transport and seek permission to apply for government money to start construction.
Consulting engineer WSP has provided a range of services for the project since 2015 including structures, highways, maritime, land referencing, consultation and stakeholder engagement, environmental disciplines, landscape and urban design, town planning, geotechnical, 3D visualisation, transport planning, intelligent transport systems, quantity surveying and project management. It produced the preliminary design for the scheme, environmental statement, consultation report and other key documents for the application.
Arup was Bam Nuttall’s consulting engineer for finalising the design.