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Upper Orwell Crossing letters spark fear over buy-up of homes for Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 19:00 22 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:28 23 July 2018

An aerial view of the Upper Orwell Crossings.  Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

An aerial view of the Upper Orwell Crossings. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Archant

Householders living near the proposed route of the Ipswich Upper Orwell Crossings are being reassured their homes are safe after council chiefs sent out 3,000 letters warning them they were seeking compulsory purchase powers to acquire the land needed.

Campaigners around Cliff Lane have already raised concerns over the impact on wildlife Picture: GREGG BROWNCampaigners around Cliff Lane have already raised concerns over the impact on wildlife Picture: GREGG BROWN

Residents living in the Waterfront and both sides of the river are being reassured they will not have to sell their homes despite the letters being sent out by Suffolk County Council on Thursday and Friday last week.

The letter asks occupiers to fill in an accompanying questionnaire outlining what interest they have in the property in which they live.

It said: “Suffolk County Council is proposing to make the application for this development consent order in 2019.

“The development consent order would also contain other powers that are necessary for the Upper Orwell Crossings project, including powers to compulsorily acquire land required, to override easements and other rights in connection with land and to use land temporarily.”

Paul West met with campaigners in Cliff Lane last month to understand their concerns Picture: GREGG BROWNPaul West met with campaigners in Cliff Lane last month to understand their concerns Picture: GREGG BROWN

The letters have left those living in the area concerned that compulsory purchase orders – legal functions which allow certain organisations to obtain land or property without the owner’s consent – will be used to buy their homes.

Walter Gormer, a homeowner in Oulton Road who received a letter said: “I thought they were going to knock my house down and widen the road or they might have thought about having a roundabout there.

“People are very upset – they haven’t given enough details about what land they are going to use.”

But Paul West, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for Ipswich said: “Business owners and residents that have an interest in land or property where the proposed Upper Orwell Crossings would be built or in the immediate area surrounding the crossings received a letter last week asking for confirmation of their details, so they could be properly notified of the public consultation which is due to take place this autumn.

Liz Harsant has written to the project bosses over the way the distribution of letters has been handled Picture: PAUL GEATERLiz Harsant has written to the project bosses over the way the distribution of letters has been handled Picture: PAUL GEATER

“The autumn consultation is for the development consent order following the Secretary of State for Transport directing that the Upper Orwell Crossings project be treated as a project of national significance.

“Those who received the letter, I would ask them to please fill in the land interest questionnaire and return it to WSP by the closing date of Friday 3 August.

“This will ensure the project team have all the correct details on file for further correspondence on the consultation.

“I can assure those who received the letter, there will be no compulsory purchase orders issued to residential properties.”

Liz Harsant, borough councillor for the area, said she had had a number of emails from concerned homeowners, and confirmed she had not been informed until after the letters went out.

“I am so cross about it,” she said. “I had a really touching email from a couple in Clapgate Lane in their late 70s and they thought their house was going to be taken from them and that’s where they want to see out their days.

“The whole thing is disgraceful, I have had so many worried people phone up.”

Ms Harsant said she had written to residents who had contacted her, and also written to Mr West and Upper Orwell Crossing bosses over the issue.

It is understood that more letters are set to go out this week.

While Mr West confirmed compulsory purchase orders would not be used on homes, it is not yet clear if they will be used on business, commercial or other properties.

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