Adastral Park ‘new town’ will create hundreds of jobs to bring big boost to the area’s economy
PUBLISHED: 11:12 11 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:58 11 January 2018
After years of fierce debate, protests and high court battles, proposals for 2,000 new homes at Adastral Park at Martlesham Heath are set to get the go-ahead next week.
Experts claim the £100million-plus 279-acre project – dubbed a “new town” by opponents – could create 550 jobs during construction and 350 permanent jobs when complete, and bring a huge boost to the economy.
It will include an £18m deal for a new “all through” school with early years, primary, secondary and sixth form education on a 13-acre site for more than 1,800 youngsters.
There will be a new convenience store, community centre, sports ground, open space, and a 1.5-acre employment area, but amid all the benefits there are still strong local concerns over the traffic impact on the A12 and minor roads.
Some £15m is to be spent on road improvements, including widening of lanes and traffic lights at the roundabouts on the A12 from Foxhall to Martlesham, and also at the A12/A14 Seven Hills interchange.
However, Suffolk Coastal planning officers are disappointed that the widening of the approaches at the junctions is not as extensive as hoped, work which would have “future-proofed” the road network.
Head of planning and coastal management, Philip Ridley said all traffic mitigation proposed had been reviewed in detail and all proposed junction improvements and accesses were subject to independent Road Safety Audits, showing “positive results”.
He said: “The proposal will substantially increase traffic on the local highway network and the mitigation proposed will go some way in minimising its effect when compared with the two reference cases – that is, in 10 years’ time without the development and with the development but without mitigation.
“The results show that the development would not result in severe impacts on the highway network, which is the requirement of the National Planning Policy Framework.
“The substantial £15 million investment in the highway network could only be delivered through a single major site and should be recognised as a benefit of the development.”
Parish councils, residents and campaign groups still have serious doubts and believe the traffic impact in an area already congested at rush-hour will be worse than feared.
No Adastral New Town (NANT), which fought the Adastral Park plans all the way to the Supreme Court, is particularly concerned about construction traffic and wants to the main entrance to the development – a traffic light ‘T’ junction on the A12 between the BT and Foxhall roundabouts – fully functional before any construction works starts.
The group said: “This would help a little to alleviate residents’ grave concerns about the impact of all the construction traffic for the early phases using the quiet and narrow country road that is Ipswich Road with no alternatives in place and thereby failing to ensure highway safety.”
NANT is maintaining its objection because it wants to be reassured that a significant amount will be spent mitigating the impact of the development on the internationally-protected River Deben area.
Martlesham county councillor Patricia O’Brien is concerned about what will happen if road improvements fail to work.
She said: “The A12 is certainly up to capacity at present, especially at peak-time and the addition of 4,000 extra cars from the development will, naturally, cause delay and congestion.
“Traffic lights and increased road capacity at roundabouts will be of limited, but necessary help.
“A major concern that has not been addressed is the effect the inevitable increased traffic will have on the minor roads and villages in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We are all aware that drivers seek the easiest, quickest route to their destination. If roads are congested they will use side roads and lanes to the everlasting detriment of our beautiful countryside.”
Suffolk Coastal’s planning committee will discuss the plans submitted by Carlyle Land Ltd and CEG on Monday and are recommended to approve them.
Mr Ridley said the investment “will contribute extensively to the local economy and a wide range of local businesses and suppliers will benefit from this growth over the next 10-15 years”.
The project would also deliver a new road through Adastral Park, allowing future redevelopment of other land with the potential to create hundreds of new permanent jobs.
Work on the land to the south of the BT Adastral Park complex is scheduled to get under way this year.
Developers are aiming to build 160 homes a year with 1,575 homes complete by 2027 and the development finished by 2032.
The main elements will be:
● 2,000 new homes, 500 of them affordable, including homes for rent and shared ownership;
● 13-acre school site for early years to sixth form;
● 20 acres of sports grounds plus sports pavilion;
● convenience store and other small shops;
● public square with cafe overlooking a lake;
● community centre;
● public car park;
● allotments and community orchards;
● 50 acres of outdoor space plus play areas;
● 1.5-acre employment area;
● £725,000 to upgrade Martlesham Heath Surgery and Birches Medical Centre or purpose-built medical centre.