Ipswich: Labour housing scheme praised by Conservatives’ policy chief

Minister of State Oliver Letwin in Ipswich, looking over new
council house plans for Bader Close.

Minister of State Oliver Letwin in Ipswich, looking over new council house plans for Bader Close. Left to right, Ben Gummer, Oliver Letwin and cllr John Mowles. - Credit: Archant

It’s not the kind of scheme that the Tories have been closely associated with in the past – but party policy guru Oliver Letwin visited a new council housing development during a visit to Ipswich.

The first substantial new council housing development in the borough in a generation is due to start next spring – 108 homes are due to go up at Bader Close in the south east of the town.

The project was able to go ahead after the government eased restrictions on councils spending their council house receipts – and while there have been two small-scale developments in Ipswich, Bader Close is the first substantial project.

Mr Letwin is the minister currently drawing up proposals for the next Conservative general election manifesto – although he was at pains to insist that Ipswich would not necessarily feature in it.

He said: “The government is aware that there is a need to boost housing – both affordable housing and to make it easier for people to buy their own homes.

“There is a need for all kinds of homes to satisfy people’s individual needs – and this kind of scheme should help to do that.”

Before visiting Bader Close, Mr Letwin had spent two hours at Cliff Lane Primary School in Ipswich seeing how it operated.

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He said: “I’m not going to say that Ipswich will feature in the next manifesto, but it is important to see how government policies are being implemented and are affecting life across the country.”

Bader Close will see 108 homes built. The first should be ready for occupation by the end of next year, with the scheme being complete by Christmas 2015.

There will be 77 two-bedroomed houses, 20 bungalows that will be totally accessible for those with mobility problems, and 11 four-bedroomed houses.

They are all types of homes that there are only limited numbers of in the borough’s current housing stock.

Mr Letwin was told about the scheme by council officers and borough housing spokesman John Mowles.

However the veteran Labour councillor was at pains to stress who was behind the scheme: “This is not a Tory government scheme, it is a Labour borough scheme,” he insisted.

“We are able to do this thanks to a change in the regulations that was originally introduced by the previous Labour government.”