Can Ipswich cope with thousands of edge-of-town homes, including Ipswich Garden Suburb and Adastral Park?
PUBLISHED: 07:14 18 April 2017 | UPDATED: 07:30 18 April 2017
Like towns and cities across the country, Ipswich has been growing for centuries. But looking at outstanding planning applications in the pipeline, that growth is likely to accelerate in the next few years, bringing major benefits, according to councillors.
There are currently plans for more than 6,000 new homes in four large developments around the town – and there are more large and medium-sized developments at an earlier stage of preparation.
And that does not include proposals to build up to 2,000 more homes in or very near the town centre, fuelled by an interest in urban living and desire to have easy access to services.
Around the edge of town there are currently four very large developments being proposed.
The largest is the Ipswich Garden Suburb on the northern fringe of the town which could ultimately include between 3,000 and 3,500 homes.
It is split into three separate sections. The first, Henley Gate, was given outline permission for up to 1,100 homes earlier this year.
Now a planning application from Mersea Homes for up to 815 homes between Henley Road, Westerfield Road and Valley Road has been formally re-submitted to Ipswich council.
This follows discussion with planners and the publication of a masterplan for the garden suburb – and is expected to be considered by planners later in the year.
No detailed proposals for the third phase of the Garden Suburb have emerged yet – but the whole development is expected to take at least a decade to complete.
Meanwhile the plans for 2,000 new homes next to Adastral Park at Martlesham Heath are progressing. That would see the area to the south and east of the existing business park developed over the next 15 years.
And an application to build another 300 homes to the south of the existing Grange Farm estate at Kesgrave has been in the planning process at Suffolk Coastal council for some time now – but planning officials have suggested it should be larger and incorporate more local services in it.
On the other side of Ipswich the proposed Wolsey Grange development would see 475 homes built in the Babergh district inside the Ipswich southern by-pass between the A14, A1214, and A1071.
However this could be the start of a larger development of this area stretching right round to the former sugar beet factory site in Sproughton which is set to be redeveloped as a new business park.
Can Ipswich cope with all this new development? Will enough be done to deal with the extra traffic, the demand on schools, doctors’ surgeries and community facilities?
Carole Jones, portfolio holder for planning at Ipswich Borough Council, said it was important to remember that the area needed more homes because a shortage was pushing up house prices and rents.
She said: “This (housebuilding) can be beneficial to Ipswich because people will come into the town and spend their money here boosting businesses.
“Clearly there needs to be money spent on infrastructure as part of these developments and the county council is responsible for that and takes decisions on whether the proposals are adequate.”
Ms Jones also warned that without new homes the homelessness crisis in the town would get worse.
County council cabinet member for transport James Finch said it was very important that developers of major projects should contribute to infrastructure projects – especially roads and public transport schemes.
He said: “There is a year-on-year 2% growth in the amount of traffic on our roads and that is before new developments are included so it is vital that further investment comes through.
“Ultimately there has to be a better way of bringing through the kind of investment we need to provide roads and other ways for people to get about.”
But like Ms Jones he agreed that new homes were needed in substantial numbers: “People need to have somewhere to live and we need to recognise there is a need for this growth.”
As well as the large developments on the edge of town there are a number of other sites where work is already under way or is due to start within the next few months.
These include the St Clement’s Hospital site in Foxhall Road and the former Tooks site on Norwich Road, which will be a new development of council houses – alongside a new “super-surgery” for the north of the town.