Ipswich could become 'urban sprawl'

GORDON Brown's bid to build three million new homes in Britain by 2020 will lead to Ipswich swallowing up neighbouring towns and villages, it was claimed today.

GORDON Brown's bid to build three million new homes in Britain by 2020 will lead to Ipswich swallowing up neighbouring towns and villages, it was claimed today.

Under current house building plans, 15,900 homes need to be built in the town by 2021.

However it is feared that the new Prime Minister's ambitious proposals will mean thousands more homes on top of this being earmarked for Ipswich, leading to a huge strain on infrastructure and creating “urban sprawl”.

Steven Wells, responsible for housing at Ipswich Borough Council, said he had grave concerns about the proposal.

“If Gordon Brown and Labour get their way Ipswich will become a sprawling mass,” he said.

“At the moment we are a county town but if these proposals go ahead you will see Ipswich swallowing areas such as Kesgrave.

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“There is potential for the town going as far as areas such as Great Blakenham and Claydon. You are then starting to create a sprawling mass.”

Ipswich currently has a population of around 120,000 but once work is finished on the planned 15,900 homes this could swell to upwards of 150,000.

Mr Wells said he feared further development on top of this risked crippling the town's infrastructure leading to gridlocked roads, bulging class sizes and pressured health services.

“It is the equivalent of putting a town the size of Bury St Edmunds inside Ipswich's borders,” he said.

It is unclear how many extra homes will be designated for Ipswich under Mr Brown's plans although councillor Neil MacDonald, spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council's Labour group, argued expansion had its benefits if done properly.

He claimed a growing population in Ipswich would attract big name retailers and increase the income for the council to spend on services and improving the existing infrastructure.

“It is quite a challenge to take on that many homes, a lot will be flats and we will have to accept more high buildings.

“We will also have to deal with traffic congestion as there will obviously be more cars on the road but you have to balance the pros with the cons.

“The pros are that more people will attract better retailers and the council will have more money from council tax and be able to push that back in to better facilities.”

Do you think expansion will be good or bad for Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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