£50 million vision fades

PUBLISHED: 15:58 29 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:28 03 March 2010

THE FUTURE of Ipswich for the next 15 years has been given the seal of approval by officials at Civic Centre … but hopes of creating a £50 million regeneration scheme in the town seems set to be ignored.

THE FUTURE of Ipswich for the next 15 years has been given the seal of approval by officials at Civic Centre … but hopes of creating a £50 million regeneration scheme in the town seems set to be ignored.

This has left action groups, big business and developers confused - with talk of High Court action being taken against the borough council.

Councillors in the town last night proposed and accepted the Ipswich Local Plan.

But it does not include the South Ipswich Regeneration Project that had heralded a huge investment for the town and around 1,000 extra jobs.

Objectors have around four months to lodge their concerns to the council before the representations are considered in December and the second stage draft produced early next year.

Last night's meeting of the borough's executive committee saw legal wrangling between councillors, although the man who wrote the proposals that omit the original project, Phil Smart (Labour), left the room before the talks and did not face questioning.

The plan was passed through to its next stage - with only three councillors out of 12 objecting to it.

However, the Evening Star was able to gauge the view of many organisations concerned.

The developers contracted by the council, Samuel Beadie Ltd, last night threatened legal procedures after the four years they have spent developing the original plan appears to have been wiped from the slate.

Representative Clive Thompson said: "This is four years of work that is being ignored. It's an outrage but we'll see if they change their mind in the High Court. Everybody is upset about this. We don't wish to comment further at this stage."

In a letter to Peter Gardiner (Labour), the chairman of the committee, Associated British Ports, owners of Ipswich Port, said that they were concerned that plans cited in the South Ipswich Regeneration Project appeared to have been left out of the new plan.

It states: "We are particularly concerned to note that, in respect of the proposed access improvements to, in and around Ipswich Port, the report proposes that priority be given to a new Wet Dock Crossing and West Bank Link in preference to a new East Bank Link Road. This is neither consistent with the expectations we had been given by officers in recent discussions, nor with the clear representations previously made by the port at county and borough level.

"In the event that the council approves for consultation the draft Local Plan in its present form, the port will inevitably have no option but to oppose the Local Plan."

A letter from Wherstead Road residents association says: "We find ourselves flabbergasted and very angry. We have been at the forefront of a campaign to remove heavy good vehicles from roads of Ipswich with considerable residential frontages for nearly 20 years. Now, in 2001, if council approve the content of the draft, we will be campaigning for another 20 years."

John Last, secretary of the Landseer and Nacton Road Action Group, who were also set to benefit from the South Ipswich Regeneration Plan said: "We are fully aware that Ipswich Borough Council has before it proposals for not only a privately funded relief road, but also a new £50 million investment in the area and the potential of 1,000 much needed new jobs.

"The review document to the executive committee totally ignores what our group, along with the residents we represent and the general public for that matter, realises what is now on the table for an almost immediate start at no cost to the council tax payers of Ipswich."

Paul West, chairman of Ipswich Conservatives group, said: "The £50m enabling development, largely on council owned land in the depressed Gainsborough ward, has been unjustifiably omitted from the stage 1 review, without any explanation.

"The lack of a credible transport strategy for Ipswich is a failure of the local Labour administration.

The Evening Star's Gridlock Ipswich campaign has highlighted the public's concern over the past 18 months. Effective public and private transport links are essential to economic development and quality of life. Yet the Draft Local Plan Review fails to adequately address these issues."

There are also growing fears about a proposal to build 1,500 homes on one of the town's few greenfield sites.

Opponents last night criticised the plan to build the homes on farmland between Westerfield Road and Henley Road.

Executive committee member David Brown, Tory councillor for St Margarets, said he had "very serious concerns" about the development, including the demands that would be placed upon local services, schools and hospitals, and the impact on the road network and environment.

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