Will public space by Ipswich flood barrier ever be opened?

Griffin Wharf fence

The open space by the flood barrier remains fenced off to the public. - Credit: Paul Geater

More than two years after a new public open space was created on the West Bank of the River Orwell in Ipswich, no one has been able to use it because port owner ABP is still struggling to see how it can allow people safe access to it.

The new open space was created by the Environment Agency when it installed the new flood barrier across the New Cut which is aimed at protecting thousands of properties in Ipswich.

Barrier aerial picture

The open space can be seen to the left of the barrier at the mouth of the New Cut with the rail tramway beside it. - Credit: Environment Agency

The plan was for it to have a visitor centre explaining the barrier and an open space for people to enjoy and watch the river. However since that was completed in early 2019 - with landscaping and benches for people to relax - it has been fenced off because ABP is worried about people walking across an occasionally-used rail siding.

In March 2019 it was said that the area should be opened to the public by the late spring or early summer - but it has been impossible to resolve the rail line issue.

The siding was paved and has been part of the highway at that point since the 1980s and there have been no reports of any injuries or incidents. It is occasionally used by freight trains accessing the minerals depot on the West Bank terminal which they reach over the Wherstead Road bridge.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said the open space was ready to be opened as soon as the issues with the safety of the rail line were resolved.

A spokeswoman for ABP said discussions were still ongoing but there remained concerns about the safety of allowing public access to the tramway. She added: “ABP is working with local stakeholders to agree a solution for creating safe access to the public space across a railway line in regular use”.

Port open space

Part of the open space is now used to dump unused metal. - Credit: Paul Geater

In the meantime while most of the public open space is tantalisingly ready to be visited by the increasing number of residents in the area, part of the site now appears to have become a dumping ground for unwanted material.

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