Plea to improve public transport

PUBLIC transport needs to be improved to serve major new housing developments instead of building new roads, it is today claimed.

By GRAHAM DINES, politics reporter

graham.dines@eveningstar.co.uk

PUBLIC transport needs to be improved to serve major new housing developments instead of building new roads, it is today claimed.

And town planners have been urged not to use expensive, aspirational road schemes, which may not even be built, as a barrier to stop greater use of public transport when big housing schemes are approved.

Ipswich Borough Council's draft local development framework is currently under the spotlight and is expected to be used as a template for regeneration and development in Ipswich until 2026.

It contains proposals for a northern relief road, a wet dock crossing and an east bank access road to support the thousands of new houses that could be built across the town, including the Northern Fringe.

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However the borough has no jurisdiction over highways matters and would have to rely on Suffolk County Council, the East of England Regional Assembly and the Highways Agency to have any chance of persuading the Department of Transport to approve the projects.

Two years ago, the county council decided that because of the cost of the wet dock crossing - �95million at 2004 prices - and the East Bank Link Road - �67m at 2004 prices - there was no possibility of either scheme becoming priority projects for Suffolk.

And Phil Smart, Labour's transport spokesman, said: “The solution to traffic congestion is through better traffic management and the reduction of demand through better public transport.”

Mr Smart said plans for 5,000 homes on the northern fringe of the borough should include a more specific commitment to developing a public transport corridor to serve it. Distributor roads should also be planned, rather than the northern by-pass.

Borough council leader Liz Harsant acknowledged that new roads for Ipswich were an aspiration.

But she added: “Getting these projects into a priority list is going to be hard, but the borough is required to produce a local development framework and that's what we are doing.”

n. Would you prefer to see improved public transport or more roads built? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or have your say at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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