Concern about future maintenance of road as lockdown encourages traffic
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Lockdown has encouraged more people to visit their local beauty spots and residents living off a council-owned road which leads to Orwell Country Park have raised concerns about its future upkeep.
Commonly known as the old airfield road, the single track lane runs from Nacton Road down to Priory Court, Orwell Country Park and Hallow tree Activity Centre.
Originally part of the old Ipswich airport as a perimeter road, ownership was transferred in a deed dated September 1945 from the private owners to Ipswich Borough Council — on the condition it 'maintain in a reasonable state of repair and condition'.
Allan Sugg became chairperson of the Priory Court Residents' Association in 2017 and inherited a large folder of communications with the council concerning the state of the road, going back to 2007.
In the years before Mr Sugg arrived, the paperwork indicated a fraught relationship with the council. However, since meeting with new IBC Property Services operations manager Stuart McDonald in early 2020, there have been several urgent repairs carried out — despite the challenges of coronavirus.
"Since the new head of department came in the council has been great," Mr Sugg said.
"But the real long term issue here is the increased use of the road by all of the amenities such as the Hallow Tree centre which hosts gospel choirs, caravan rallies and scout meetings.
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"In the pandemic people have been forced to use local beauty spots and have been using the country park more often which is reached by our road — this won't be decreasing in the future so there needs to be a better solution found."
Mr McDonald said: "It's a very difficult balance because on one hand to resurface the road entirely would be very expensive, and on the other hand a highways level road would be open to ecological restraints," he explained.
"The country park is a designated area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) so it is a very delicate balance for us to keep.
"We are adopting a much more proactive stance on pothole repair, but can't say we'll be widening the road at any stage."
The road was widened by IBC from the 10ft width set out in the deed by planing to create passing points and Mr Sugg has called for the council to raise the standard of the surface.
He said some residents have even considered stepping forward to do it themselves and added: "The council needs to step up to the plate and make it safer for the public to use."