Ipswich: Town must go for gold on the northern fringe

I CAN understand concerns of residents about the prospect of the northern fringe being developed over the next 20 years – but it does now seem inevitable.

However it is important that the development should really enhance the town – not become just a huge housing estate with a few community facilities.

And for that reason, I hope that the politicians at Grafton House listen to Ben Gummer – and don’t just dismiss his comments as those of an opposition politician trying to make political points.

The northern fringe will take decades to reach its full potential. If work starts in the next couple of years, it will not be until the second half of the 2030s that the last of the estimated 4,000 homes are completed.

However there needs to be very careful thought about how this development will sit with the rest of the town.

It would be good to look at what has happened in other developments across Europe – not just those in this country.

And there are real issues with transport both within the development and in transport links to the rest of the town and the wider community.

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While Ravenswood, Grange Farm, and the proposed Martlesham Heath development are all near major roads, the northern fringe is not – and adding substantially more traffic to Westerfield Road would be a disaster.

However the northern fringe will be served by a rail station which could have two trains an hour in each direction into the heart of Ipswich and linking in to main line services to London.

Access to the homes is a tough issue – on the one hand you don’t want to create rat-runs which increase general traffic.

But if you only have one entrance in and out of the development – as at Ravenswood – you create the feeling of being a “community apart” and not really part of the town.

You end up with a situation that nobody ever goes into the area unless they have to. . . and that means a risk of the whole area becoming isolated.

It is still early days in drawing up the masterplan – but I hope views from all sides are included.

It would be a tragedy if good ideas are rejected just because they come from a political opponent.