Mixed welcome heralds Enterprise Island plans

An impression of the possible development of the island site with the double bridge over the lock in

An impression of the possible development of the island site with the double bridge over the lock in the foreground. - Credit: Archant

Proposals for an “Enterprise Island” in the heart of the Ipswich Waterfront have received a mixed welcome in the town.

The scheme – which includes a new crossing of the River Orwell between Wherstead Road and Cliff Quay – has the backing of senior business leaders, bosses at UCS, and leaders of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership as well as the county council.

However, borough council leader David Ellesmere, who will be standing as the town’s Labour candidate in next year’s General Election, said if the government had £100 million to spend on new investment in the town, he would rather it went towards a northern by-pass than a new river crossing.

Ipswich’s Conservative MP Ben Gummer wants to see new businesses built on the island site, owned by Associated British Ports, which he believes could transform Ipswich’s Waterfront over the next 20 years.

The proposal would see 20 acres of land transformed into a business hub attracting high-technology companies with links to UCS.

Landowner ABP is backing the proposal along with UCS, Suffolk County Council, and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

After showing off their proposals yesterday morning, Mr Gummer travelled to London to put in an official bid for government funding for improvements to the road network.

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A key element of the scheme is the new crossing with two rising bridges over the lock and a fixed bridge over the New Cut.

Mr Ellesmere doubted whether the crossing could be completed for the £78m quoted by Mr Gummer. He said: “I think it would be nearer £100m, and if the government has that amount of money to invest in Ipswich, I would rather see it go towards a new northern by-pass.”

His conversations with ABP had indicated that the only way they could get the right value for the island site would be to build homes on the land – but if their view had changed, the borough would be happy to talk about looking at changing the planning guidelines for the site.

Mr Gummer was joined at the site by Suffolk cabinet member for transport Graham Newman – and insisted the proposal would give the town the boost it needed.

He said: “We are here 82 miles from the most important financial centre in the world (London), an hour and a quarter from the country’s leading high-technology hub (Cambridge) and 15 minutes from the most important port in the country.

“This is the perfect site for a major new business hub. It just needs the energy to push it through.”