Ferry plan hits the rocks

IT has not been plain sailing for the National Trust with its plan to revive a ferry and set up a public transport route to the new visitor centre at Sutton Hoo.

IT has not been plain sailing for the National Trust with its plan to revive a ferry and set up a public transport route to the new visitor centre at Sutton Hoo.

The project is hanging in the balance after councillors approved a plan to install a floating pontoon jetty by the Tide Mill, but deferred a decision on a landing stage at Sutton for further research.

That means the National Trust will have to undertake further work before it can persuade Suffolk Coastal District Council to give permission. It also has to bring in a bus to allow visitors to make the return journey when the river is at low tide.

District councillors were keen on the revival of the ferry on the River Deben and said it would bring economic benefits to Woodbridge and more visitors to the Tide Mill.

But they expressed concerns about the installation of two pontoons for a ferry that would only operate for a maximum of 5.5 hours a day when the tide was right and Sutton Hoo open to the public.

Issues raised during discussions on two planning applications included the amount of silt in the river that could prevent the efficient running of the ferry.

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The principle of putting a 90-foot-long ferry landing stage at Sutton in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Site of Special Scientific Interest also exercised both councillors and planning officers.

John Richardson, chairman of the council's development control sub committee, said the 90-foot-long walkway and pontoon would be a "massive structure" that would almost reach into the centre of the river.

But councillor Russell Geen, who has lived in Woodbridge all his life, recalled memories of the previous ferry and felt putting a pontoon by the Tide Mill was the perfect place for a ferry.

"We have the historic Tide Mill and we have the historic Sutton Hoo site, let us join them together. I think that will be an asset," he added.