Pioneering community 'ahead of its time'

ONCE it was the object of protests from aviation fans furious about the loss of Ipswich Airport.

Richard Cornwell

ONCE it was the object of protests from aviation fans furious about the loss of Ipswich Airport.

Now Ravenswood is being held up as an example of how to build a new community from scratch.

But with its mix of homes and people from different backgrounds as well as a pub, school, community, health and sport facilities nearby and plenty of green open space, the Ipswich development has been hailed as “ahead of its time”.

The leafy boulevards, satellite shop complex, 20mph speeds limits, cyclepaths, traffic calming, safe walkways and public art scattered around is said to be a model of how everyone will live in the future.

Residents are now being invited to give their views - and discuss what it's like living in the community with a university researcher.

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Kirsten Owen, 26, from the University of Sheffield, is holding a one-day event at the Ravenswood shops on Saturday from 10am to 3pm.

This will allow residents to tell her about their neighbourhood through interactive activities - and she is especially keen to talk to the younger residents.

“I want people to tell me about their neighbourhood,” said Miss Owen, who works in the university's Town and Regional Planning Department.

“I do not have a remit about what I am after; I just want to get some view points from residents.

“What I am keen for is getting the views of the younger people who live on Ravenswood because quite often in planning we think about adults and young people do not get thought about in quite the same way.

“It is really important that we know how we build new neighbourhoods and create really exciting places to live.

“It is important residents can come along and share their views whether they are a young family or children or elderly. We are here to listen and want to know what they have to say.”

Do you like living on Ravenswood - if not, why not? Write to Star Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or email

What the locals think:-

Laurence White, who moved to Ravenswood when his job switched to Ipswich nine years ago, said: “It's nice here. You do occasionally get woken up by teenagers larking about, but otherwise it's quiet.”

Stephanie Poulter, who has lived on the development six years, said: “It's quite nice here - we have never had any trouble. There are lots of places for the smaller children to play.”

Daniel Theophani said: “I think there is a really good sense of community, and I like the easy access onto the A14.”

Craig Bloomfield, who has lived on Ravenswood three years, said: “There are lots of good facilities - a decent pick of shops, Orwell Country Park on the doorstep, it's quiet, and there are regular flyers to let us know everything going on.”

Rebecca Bloomfield said: “It's nice and clean and quiet. Good bus services. We like living here.”

A happy community:-

TEN years on from when work started on the first houses, Ravenswood is a thriving community - and most people seem happy to live there.

Jackie Horstead , chairman of Ravenswood Residents' Association, working with colleagues Mary Eagle, Becca Macro and James Gibson, said: “To begin with our group was very much focussed on trouble shooting because everything was new and there were some issues to sort out, but now we want to provide more for the community, bringing people together.

“It's very leafy and with the trees, greens and public art, is starting to mature nicely.”

Ipswich councillor John Mowles, one of the leaders of the campaign to create Ravenswood, said: “It was a thorny issue at the time but I don't think there are many people now who would disagree with the council - it was a good decision and has been a real success story.

“It is a flagship set-up and part of the reason for that was the council was determined not to flog it off to the highest bidder but to work closely with one developer and have it planned right. It is an excellent example of a future development.”

FASTFACTS: Ravenswood

- Creation of Ravenswood meant the closure of Ipswich Airport, a well-used airfield for small flights, mostly private planes, and a part of the town for many years.

- The decision created huge controversy in the town - and a campaign was launched to save the airport, including petitions and a big protest march.

- There were some who felt services at the borough council-owned airfield should have been expanded into a regional commuter airport, but figures showed it was losing money and not viable.

- The airport closed in early 1997 and plans were approved for 1,000 homes on the land off Nacton Road, plus other facilities.

- Bellway Homes was chosen as the developer and building started in 1999 and the first residents moved in later that year.

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