Waterfront open space to remain closed off until safety work is completed
PUBLISHED: 07:30 24 March 2019
A new area of open space on Ipswich Waterfront will remain closed to the public until safety work can be carried out to fence off a railway line.
The area has been created as part of the £67.4million tidal project to protect more than 1,600 homes and 400 businesses from flooding.
The barrier opened last month but the open space – which includes a cycle path and walkway, lighting, viewing platform and seating overlooking the river and downstream to the Orwell Bridge – remains closed.
While finishing touches have been put to the site including connecting the lighting, the main problem is a short stretch of rail line which runs along the edge of the land and New Cut West, behind the IP-City Centre, and so hoardings are still in place.
Although the rail line is only very occasionally used for shunting aggregates, it will need to be fenced off – although with gaps for access across it to the new open waterside space – to ensure the public is safe.
Experts at port owners ABP are currently assessing the options for the fencing – though it is hoped a solution can be found and the work done by late spring or early summer.
Persimmon are set to build 113 new homes at the end of New Cut West and Bath Street later this year on the compound used by contractors for the tidal barrier and the open space will provide a place for residents to relax, as well as office workers and visitors to the area seeking a place to rest, read and enjoy the spectacular views.
An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “The public access area on the West Bank is currently under the control of VBA, our contractors on the Ipswich Tidal Flood Defence project.
“We will soon be taking over responsibility of the area from VBA, but responsibility for the hoarding will immediately be transferred to ABP.
“Before the area can be opened to the public, ABP will install a safety fence around the railway line. Once this fence is in place, we should be in a position to open up the area to the public.”
The flood barrier future-proofs Ipswich from flooding from the River Orwell and the impacts of climate change over the next century with a 200-tonne rotating barrier which can be raised in minutes, helping to keep the town safe from tidal surges during storms, plus 1,100 metres of new and refurbished flood walls and a series of floodgates.
The floodgate has a design similar to that of the Thames Barrier and is so large that it is coated with six tonnes of protective paint. The floodgate rotates upwards out of the sea floor into the closed position, holding back dangerous tidal surges that could flood the town.
It is also a major step forwards for the borough council’s Core Development Strategy for Ipswich and will release land for development, helping to create an estimated 4,000 jobs.