Ipswich: Politics of planning is stifling the town’s development – top Tory

Judy Terry has hit out at the borough's planning delays.

Judy Terry has hit out at the borough's planning delays. - Credit: Contributed

Political interference in planning matters at the borough has held back the development of Ipswich and prevented the town from taking full advantage of the economic recovery.

That’s the verdict of senior Conservative councillor Judy Terry who is preparing to stand down after a decade in the front line of Ipswich politics.

Mrs Terry is currently opposition housing spokeswoman at the borough, but is not seeking re-election next month.

She is also a member of the planning and development committee, but said the borough must take much of the blame for the lack of new developments in the town over recent years.

However Labour council leader David Ellesmere said his administration had “nothing to apologise for” in attempting to get more affordable homes – and was confident development would pick up as the economy improves.

Mrs Terry said: “There is too much political interference. The planning department has lost a lot of good staff over recent years which would slow things down anyway.”

Mrs Terry felt the borough’s insistence on a high proportion of affordable homes with every significant application had put developers off – proposals for a new housing development on the site of the former St Clement’s Hospital was withdrawn because the council insisted 35% of them should be for rent.

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She said: “Last year less than 100 new homes were built in the borough. The economy is recovering, but we’re not seeing developments in Ipswich because the council makes so many demands.”

It is not just housing developments that have faced problems – Mrs Terry said political interference had delayed proposals for a Tesco in Grafton Way for so long that eventually the company decided to walk away.

And the council’s economic development officers should have sold the town to potential employers: “We’re an hour from the City of London, there’s office space to let at a reasonable price.

“Why aren’t we down there talking to companies about relocating to Ipswich? That’s what the town needs,” she added.