Northern fringe is coming!

THE government’s decision to reject the proposed housing development on the northern fringe of Ipswich is good news for the town – but no one should doubt that that area will eventually be turned into a housing estate.

During the inquiry into Mersea Homes’ application the question was not whether homes should be built there – but how and when.

And crucially the borough managed to persuade the government that permission should not be given for part of the fringe until a masterplan for the whole area – with thousands of homes – is drawn up.

That is good news, and it does mean that development is unlikely to take place before 2016 at the earliest, and it could be later if the economy continues in the doldrums as now seems highly likely.

That should also give a boost to smaller, but still significant, housing schemes in the area – schemes which could have a great benefit to the town as a whole.

One beneficiary could be Whitton United FC and the whole sports scene in north west Ipswich.

They are currently in limbo because the King George’s Playing Fields beside Bury Road are zoned for housing in the future.

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There is a proposal to develop new pitches near the Whitton Sports Centre and to build a proper non-league ground for the club as part of the housing development on its current site.

But the recession kicked those proposals into the long grass and has left the club in a difficult position – its clubhouse needs urgent work but it knows it has no long-term future so its dedicated members are forced to spend a lot of time patching it up.

With work on the northern fringe put off, hopefully developers who see a chink of light in the recession storm clouds will start looking at sites like Bury Road or on the Waterfront where the half-finished Regatta Quay and Mill developments stand out like a sore thumb.

Only when there is really positive news on sites like this should work start in earnest on drawing up a northern fringe masterplan.

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