Battle over fields is only just starting

COUNTRYSIDE around Felixstowe is under its biggest threat for years.

Doctors want to build a new medical centre next to The Grove woodland, developers are proposing 150-plus homes on a field at Old Felixstowe, and councillors have given the go-ahead for a project that could see a football stadium built on Eastward Ho.

Meanwhile, fields both sides of Walton High Street look likely to be concreted over for 450 new homes, and – landowners hope – a Tesco superstore, and offices.

At Trimley, Trinity College, Cambridge, has plans for port-related development at Christmas Yard Wood, and over at Kirton, the field in Innocents Lane – a site bigger than Trimley St Mary – is a now an active project, the possibility of a huge business park in the heart of the peninsula.

And that’s just the beginning.

Fields in the Trimleys are still being eyed for housing – the possibility in the future of another 1,000-plus properties – and a second field in Old Felixstowe.

The big problem in the Felixstowe area is lack of brownfield land – previously used sites are few and far between, as is any spare land in the urban area.

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The doctors at Central Surgery could have used a brownfield site – land where the old shops stood in St Andrews Road. What went wrong with this deal has never been explained, and it was certainly a far better option than the plan to use the paddock next to The Grove.

With the St Andrews site still undeveloped, pressure should be brought for it to be reconsidered before we sacrifice a site on the edge of town next to open countryside.

It’s not just the loss of countryside, there is no bus route to the surgery site either – and, even if one can be agreed, it will probably be hourly, leaving patients with a long wait. No bus and it will be a half-mile walk, or more car journeys.

The football stadium issue will be harder to resolve – a stadium will be very hard to hide on such an open site as the Ho.

Councillors would rather see the stadium next to the new Felixstowe Academy. I understand talks took place between the club and landowners Trinity College but money is the sticking point – the field is worth far more for housing than sport.

It may have looked like victory for Save Felixstowe Countryside when Suffolk Coastal agreed to protect the Gulpher Road area, but it wasn’t the end of the story.

There is still a lot to fight over.

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