Housing debate hots up

IT'S the great debate of the Felixstowe peninsula - where should 1,620 new homes be built.For almost everyone - for one reason or another - it's Not In My Backyard, and even the NIMBYS say not on our countryside.

IT'S the great debate of the Felixstowe peninsula - where should 1,620 new homes be built.

For almost everyone - for one reason or another - it's Not In My Backyard, and even the NIMBYS say not on our countryside.

Town councillors have made themselves deeply unpopular by suggesting the resort's natural boundary be breached and the fields of Gulpher Road be taken for homes, which will wreck some of the loveliest views around the town and ruin its greatest asset.

They say it's the least worst option, but are not listening to the public and those who elected them.

One councillor though has controversially suggested another alternative greenfield site - and his idea may yet prove to be the most sensible and effective solution.

Mike Ninnmey has identified a parcel of land 500 acres or more in size just off the A14 at Trimley St Martin where a new 4,000-home stand-alone settlement could be created.

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The site - bounded by the dual carriageway, Kirton Road and Croft Lane - could provide not only the homes needed until 2024, but also for the future, creating a proper community.

It would also have space for some employment plus recreation, and a community centre, shops, school and other needs.

The biggest advantage would be the access - quick and easy onto the A14 in both directions for Felixstowe and Ipswich, and even easier access onto the old A1093 Brightwell Road for those working at the growing BT complex at Adastral Park, Martlesham.

Some people are already dubbing the proposal Trimley St Michael, though Mr Ninnmey prefers Trimley All Saints.

He said: “What we don't want to be doing is sitting here in ten years' time going through this whole process again - looking for where the next 2,000 homes will go.

“We have the chance now to plan and to identify a site for the present and the future, and to build a properly phased community, with all the community facilities tied in place so they are provided at the right time, and to make this a high-quality development with real community spirit.

“One-third of it would be affordable homes and those could be carefully programmed.

“A development of 4,000 homes would be sustainable - a new village, creating five villages close to Felixstowe: three Trimleys, Kirton and Walton.

“It would also allow the existing villages to grow naturally over time.

“Trimley St Mary and Trimley St Martin, and Walton, would not have to worry about giving up their fields, the land which keeps them separate communities - they could find room for the amounts of homes they needed to grow without the worry of having several hundred new homes imposed.”

While Trinity College's “vision” for the Trimleys - using up most of their fields for 1,900 new homes - has provoked considerable anger, senior Suffolk Coastal councillors believe next time around, when more homes have to be provided, those fields will go.

But if Mr Ninnmey's suggestion is adopted, there would be no need for those fields to be lost.

He said: “Using the land near Croft Lane would prevent another council being put in this dreadful position in future - of having to choose sites - because all we would need to do would be to release the later phases of Trimley All Saints.

“The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be protected, and there will be the chance, too, to create eco-housing and to use the very latest technology.

“It could create a 21st century village to sit alongside our older communities. It's a great opportunity.”

Is creating a new stand-alone community a good idea - or should Trimley and Walton's fields be taken for housing, or Felixstowe spread into open countryside? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Why do we need these homes?

Experts say Felixstowe needs around 1,700 new homes else the town will begin to face decline.

Without this number, the population will start to fall - people are living longer and so not moving out of homes to free them for youngsters, and more people are living on their own through choice, and circumstances such as marriage break-ups.

Less people would mean possibly the closure of at least one school, a threat to the type and number of shops, and less leisure and community facilities.

If the workforce is less - due to a population fall and more older or retired people - there would be fewer employment opportunities.

Young people would move away from the resort to find work and homes.

However, the Port of Felixstowe is set to expand and this will provide around 1,400 new jobs in the shipping industry - and new homes will also be needed for those workers.

For Felixstowe to standstill, 1,700 homes would be needed - fort it to grow perhaps up to 2,400 would be required.