Ipswich: New estate gets the go-ahead despite fierce debate

Land earmarked for the Ipswich Garden Suburb.

Land earmarked for the Ipswich Garden Suburb.

The masterplan for the proposed Ipswich Garden Suburb – the huge 3,500-home development planned for the northern fringe of the town – was formally adopted by the borough at a packed meeting.

The Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for the massive development was overwhelmingly approved despite concerns remaining that the scheme was not ambitious enough – and that the development would add to traffic chaos across the town.

Borough councillor with responsibility for planning Carole Jones said it was vital that the SPD was approved – otherwise the council would have no yardstick against which to judge planning applications for the area.

One planning application – from Mersea Homes – had already been submitted and without a masterplan in place it would be almost impossible for the borough to insist on certain planning conditions.

She said: “Without the resolutions in this report being agreed, it will not be possible for our officers to assess the application in a really robust manner – using the SPD as a key consideration.

“That is the reality of the situation, and is a reality that the Northern Fringe Protection Group fully accepts.

Although the Group has concerns about the SPD, they recognise the need for its interim adoption.”

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She hoped the opposition would understand the need to have the policy agreed, adding: “A vote in favour of this SPD helps us to control the development of North Ipswich and ensure we create a successful new community.

“A vote against would set us on the road to an unplanned, un-coordinated mish-mash where we will be picking up the pieces for decades to come.”

Opposition leader Nadia Cenci welcomed the fact that some of her group’s concerns had been addressed – but there still remained many concerns about the masterplan.

She said: “Just because we need new homes doesn’t mean we shouldn’t demand the same levels of quality that we would want in our own home.

“It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t demand a road infrastructure designed to complement and improve the existing network.

“It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t demand homes that are well built, to a level of design quality that certainly seem to be missing from Labour’s plan.”

She concluded by warning that the masterplan had been rushed – and was sub-standard.

Her Conservative colleague David Goldsmith said the plan should not be approved until a northern by-pass was included in the masterplan.

However council transport spokesman Phil Smart pointed out that the cost of a northern by-pass was estimated at £140 million and there was no money in the county council budget for this.

If this was to be paid for by the developers, it would effectively put an extra £40,000 on the cost of every house which was totally unrealistic.

The Tories joined Labour to support the principal of developing the northern fringe, but voted against the adoption of the masterplan.

The three-strong Liberal Democrat group voted against the masterplan because of their fears of traffic chaos if the scheme goes ahead.