Video: New “Enterprise Island” could transform Ipswich Waterfront
14:45 23 October 2014
A multi-million pound new business area in the heart of the Waterfront could transform Ipswich’s business prospects over the next decade.
Welcome for development proposals
The partners in the proposal all welcomed the proposed development of the island site.
Andrew Harston from site owner ABP said: “ABP is positive about the proposal for a Wet Dock crossing and the development of the Island Site as an Enterprise Island.
“A new crossing and increasing development on the Island Site would be a significant enhancement to Ipswich and would build on the considerable success of the marina.”
Richard Lister, Provost of University Campus Suffolk said: “Ipswich is well positioned to take advantage of growing demand for high-tech goods and services, as well as cutting-edge creative arts.
“The Waterfront site is developing a reputation as a centre of excellence in both of these fields and University Campus Suffolk is very keen to support their development.”
Mark Pendlington, Chairman of the New Anglia LEP said: “Ipswich is a major economic and growth hub for the New Anglia economy and we want to secure even more investment and more jobs for the area.
“That’s what is at the heart of our economic plan as we work with others to release even greater potential in Ipswich.”
Graham Newman, Suffolk’s Cabinet Member for Transport said: “This is a potentially fantastic opportunity to open up the so-called island site at Ipswich waterfront, while at the same time providing a new road route to relieve traffic congestion in the ever-busy Star Lane one way system.
“This would in turn achieve the long-standing objective to improve access between the Town Centre and the Waterfront.”
The new “Enterprise Island” between the Wet Dock and the New Cut could be home to dozens of high-tech businesses linked to UCS.
And it would be linked to the rest of the town by a new river link over the Orwell from Bath Street across the New Cut and the Wet Dock lock gates.
The scheme has the backing of Island site owner Associated British Ports, UCS, Suffolk County Council and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.
It was being unveiled today at the James Hehir Building of UCS by Ipswich MP Ben Gummer.
The project is being promoted under the label “Ipswich 2020” although the partners accept it is unlikely to be fully realised within the next six years.
Mr Gummer believes the new river crossing – which would have to include two lifting or swing bridges over the lock – is the key to the development and would ease the chronic congestion on existing roads around the Waterfront.
The bridges over the lock would cost about £78 million and there would also need to be a fixed bridge over the New Cut linking to either Bath Street or Felaw Street.
Mr Gummer said: “It would cost a great deal and I have been in talks with the Treasury, but having the backing of the university, the LEP and the landowners (ABP) is very important.
“That site is near the university, so businesses would be connected to that, and it is also a short walk from the railway station – and once we have an improved rail service it will have very easy access to the City of London.
“This is very, very, exciting. It could be a game-changer for Ipswich.”
The involvement of the county council is crucial in building the new road – although the majority of funds for that would have to come from the LEP and the Treasury.
Congestion around the Waterfront has become a fact of life in recent years – and many drivers feel it has got worse since the Travel Ipswich programme began two years ago.
A new river crossing should be able to ease that, allowing vehicles to travel from Wherstead Road to the east of town without having to use the existing Waterfront roads.
Once the infrastructure is in place, the partners expect businesses to be keen to build offices and technology centres – which could take several years, or could be snapped up more quickly.
It is possible that there could be some housing on the site, although Mr Gummer said: “There isn’t really a shortage of flats around the Waterfront!”