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Ipswich: Excessive cost, strong opposition and limited benefits mean the Northern by-pass is a non-starter

PUBLISHED: 06:59 18 February 2014 | UPDATED: 09:12 18 February 2014

County councillor Graham Newman.

County councillor Graham Newman.


Officials and politicians have rejected the possibility of building a northern by-pass for Ipswich in the foreseeable future.

Proposals for a road from the A14 junction with Bury Road to the A12 Martlesham roundabout were actively considered during the mid-1990s, but were abandoned after a storm of protest.

Some have suggested that such a road is now needed to ease pressure on Ipswich town centre – but there are three reasons it seems unlikely:

1) The cost of the road. In the mid-1990s a seven to 10-mile road across the north of the town was costed at about £30million. Now that figure has gone up to at least £100m – and could be more.

2) Widespread opposition. When last proposed an alliance of villages including Bealings, Playford, Tuddenham, Rushmere and Westerfield opposed the road which would have gone through the attractive Fynn Valley. That opposition is likely to be as strong as ever.

3) A cost-benefit analysis at present is likely to show that the road would only represent good value at times when the Orwell Bridge is closed. That may change in the years ahead – but there would need to be conclusive data to persuade the Department for Transport to finance such a scheme.

Graham Newman from Suffolk County Council said: “I can’t see there being any progress with the northern by-pass during my time as transport cabinet member.

“If you look at the figures for a new road, the A11 is costing £105m for a seven-mile stretch, the majority of which is beside an existing road.

“Building a new road from scratch is much more expensive, so it would difficult to find the money.”

He thought the opposition from the 1990s – which was led by former Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer when the villages were in that constituency – would be repeated. “In fact, the opposition would be likely to be much greater,” he added.

“In the very long term you should never say never, but I cannot see this road being built in timescale we are considering.”

However current Ipswich MP Ben Gummer felt a new road should be built to link the proposed northern fringe development to the A14 to ease pressure on the town’s roads.

“That is not in the proposals but I am urging the borough to think very hard about this – otherwise that part of Ipswich will become very congested,” he said.

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