Ipswich: Northern Fringe work could start before the end of this year

Rod Brooks on the Northern Fringe in Henley Road, Ipswich

Rod Brooks on the Northern Fringe in Henley Road, Ipswich

Work on the controversial Ipswich northern fringe could start as early as the end of this year, it has emerged.

A planning application for the first phase of the 3,500-home development could be lodged in June and considered by the borough’s planning and development committee as early as September or October.

An exhibition showing the proposals for the first phase of the development – now called the Ipswich Garden Suburb – is to be held by Mersea Homes at the Ipswich Sports Club on Henley Road later this month.

Mersea Homes wants to build 900 homes in the first phase of development, between Henley Road and Westerfield Road. It also plans to develop a local centre, including shops and community facilities, and a school.

It is planning to lodge a “hybrid” planning application with the borough. This would be an outline application for most of the development, but a full application for the first 80 homes to be built.

Simon Hoare, who represents Mersea Homes, said the company aimed to completed the development over about eight to nine years.

He said: “The exhibition will give people the chance to see what we are planning and to give their views – they will also be able to raise any issues they feel we have not addressed.

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“Providing nothing untoward comes out of that, we would hope to go ahead with our planning application as soon as possible to get things going.”

The borough has still not formally adopted the masterplan for the northern fringe and campaigners have warned that the application is premature.

Rod Brooks, chairman of the Northern Fringe Protection Group said: “The masterplan cannot be accepted until the local plan is formally adopted by the borough, and that is still some way off.

“That makes this application very premature. I think it is far too early for proposals like this to be considered by borough planners.”

He said the earliest possible that the masterplan could be formally in place was during 2015 – and would concerned if there was any attempt to rush a planning application before that time.

However Ipswich executive member for planning Carole Jones said that the fact that there was a draft masterplan under discussion should be considered if there was a planning application.

She confirmed that borough planning officers had been talking to Mersea Homes about the application: “The company has been involved in talking to the community and has appointed someone to liase with local residents, so that is a positive from that point of view.”

Any decision on whether development should be allowed before the end of this year would be down to the borough’s planning and development committee.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer was frustrated that the borough could consider making a decision on the application before the masterplan had been adopted.

He said: “What’s the point of having consultation on a masterplan if you’re just going to base planning decisions on the first draft?

“What really disappoints me is that the borough could have looked for something really outstanding in this part of the town, but the first draft of the masterplan isn’t that outstanding.

“It would be wrong for the council to make a decision based on this draft before it is adopted.”

The two-day exhibition at the Ipswich Sports Club on Henley Road is on Friday April 25 from 10am to 6.30pm and on Saturday April 26 from 10am to 3pm.

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