Link road plan set to be scrapped

FUNDING and environmental concerns are set to rule out a new east bank link road between Ipswich docks and the A14, it emerged today.Strict government funding criteria mean that Suffolk County Council does not think it is worth bidding for money for the controversial scheme.

FUNDING and environmental concerns are set to rule out a new east bank link road between Ipswich docks and the A14, it emerged today.

Strict government funding criteria mean that Suffolk County Council does not think it is worth bidding for money for the controversial scheme.

And council officers believe that a private-sector proposal to build the road has seriously under-estimated the construction costs of the link.

Instead of major new road schemes, Ipswich could end up with an improved public transport network with a single new bus station handling all services into town.


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There could also be improvements to encourage pedestrians and cyclists in the town centre and waterfront area.

Ipswich council is set to back the county's proposal to promote the public transport option - and has consistently opposed plans for an East Bank route because of fears it would damage Piper's Vale nature reserve.

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But the decision not to proceed with the link will dismay who live on the traffic-blighted Wherstead and Landseer Roads.

A new road between the A14 and the east bank of the docks, linking up with the existing road network at the Duke Street roundabout, has been proposed by developers Samuel Beadie Properties who want to build a new retail park overlooking the River Orwell.

However Suffolk County Council transport spokesman Julian Swainson was doubtful about the figures they had for the cost of the road.

He said: "They are talking about building the road for £20 million. We have worked out the total costs of building the road at £67 million. That is a very big difference.

"We can't see how their costs are at that level - there would need to be a very complex junction on to the A14."

The Samuel Beadie proposal is currently the subject of a planning application which was lodged with Ipswich council two years ago - but has never been discussed.

Ipswich port owner ABP has been one of the keenest supporters of an east bank link to take lorries directly from its Cliff Quay terminal to the A14.

Port manager Robert Smith said: "We had heard these figures, and it is disappointing to hear that the road may not be built - but it is not crucial to us.

"The people we feel sorry for are the residents of Landseer Road and Nacton Road who will get no relief from the heavy traffic."

Piper's Vale campaigner Mick Cooper was very pleased that plans for the link road had been scrapped.

He said: "Obviously it's good news not just for the environment but people that enjoy open spaces.

"For years Piper's Vale was under threat from this link road and we have always fought too protect it.

"We recognise the problems of traffic but think other areas should be looked at to alleviate it.

"The council should look into the possibility of a west bank link from the A14 leading to a bridge over the docks, which would make much more sense. With all the development going on at the docks the council will have to consider installing a bridge sooner or later."

"Ipswich needs it green spaces like Piper's Vale and Orwell Park and I hope the issue will be taken off the agenda once and for all.

"It is not a good idea to plough through the green belt, other towns envy these areas and we should preserve them for future generations or we will regret it."

The proposals are contained in Suffolk County Council's Local Transport Plan bid which is due to be discussed by councillors on September 7.

The council is to bid for government money for five major schemes which would be developed between 2006 and 2011.

These include:

nThe scheme for improved public transport in Ipswich town centre.

nA new A12 relief road between Wickham Market and Saxmundham by-passing four traffic-blighted villages.

nA new by-pass for Brandon.

nA new by-pass at Carlton Colville near Lowestoft.

nA new integrated transport scheme in north Lowestoft.

The scheme that is set to go ahead to bid for government approval would see Ipswich's two bus stations combined.

Although it doesn't specify this in the bid, councillors are looking to move the "county" bus station from the Old Cattle Market site and move it to the site of the surface car park behind Marks and Spencer, near the existing Tower Ramparts station.

The Old Cattle Market bus station could then become a new car park - or be redeveloped completely.

The cost of this scheme has been estimated at £7 million.

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