Government pledges £2 million for Ipswich wet dock link

An impression of the possible development of the island site with the double bridge over the lock in

An impression of the possible development of the island site with the double bridge over the lock in the foreground. - Credit: Archant

Hopes of building an ambitious link road across Ipswich’s wet dock have been given a substantial boost by the government.

Chancellor George Osborne included £2 million in his budget to allow the detailed plans for the project to be drawn up.

The money comes on top of a £100,000 grant for a feasibility study for the project announced earlier in the year – and Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said the new money could allow work to start next year if conditions allow.

The proposals for the Wet Dock Crossing were unveiled by Mr Gummer last October. It would include two swing bridges over the two lock gates and a fixed bridge across the New Cut.

The MP said there were three benefits to the scheme: It would enable the development of the Island Site as a high-technology centre linked to UCS, it would ease traffic pressure around the Waterfront – especially the Star Lane/Key Street area, and it would enable the town centre and Waterfront to be linked more easily.

He said: “This money will allow all the plans to be drawn up and I think that would take about a year. This time next year we should be ready to start work on the project – if the money is available.

“I would like to see work progressing during the next parliament from 2015-20.”

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Mr Gummer said the feasibility study could continue alongside the detailed planning because it would show the best way of connecting the new link into the town’s existing road network.

And he felt it was important that the new bridges should be a landmark for the town: “I want these bridges to be a feature of Ipswich for generations to come. There are similar bridges in Amsterdam and I want these to have that kind of impact on Ipswich.”

Mr Gummer’s opponent in May’s election, Labour council leader David Ellesmere, was less convinced about the benefits of the proposed crossing.

He said: “I would rather see £2 million spent on a look at easing congestion in Ipswich as a whole, including the creation of a new northern by-pass.

“This (the Wet Dock Crossing) is certainly worth looking at – but it should be looked alongside other options to improve things in the town.”

Mark Pendlington, Chairman of New Anglia LEP said: “The Wet Dock Crossing will bring major housing and employment opportunities as well as much-needed infrastructure for the Ipswich Waterfront which is fast becoming a major innovation hub.

“The project will also reduce congestion and bring much needed traffic benefits for those living, working and visiting the town and in turn attract more inward investment through better connectivity.”