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Upper Orwell Crossings would have 'turned lives into a nightmare' say campaign groups

PUBLISHED: 15:46 22 January 2019

The Rivers Action Group expressed concerns over traffic that would have been generated in Cliff Lane had the Upper Orwell CRossing been built. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The Rivers Action Group expressed concerns over traffic that would have been generated in Cliff Lane had the Upper Orwell CRossing been built. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Campaign groups on both sides of the River Orwell have expressed relief at the decision to axe the Upper Orwell Crossings, amid fears it would turn some parts of Ipswich into rat runs.

What the Upper Orwell Crossings from Foster + Partners would have looked like.  Picture: Foster + PartnersWhat the Upper Orwell Crossings from Foster + Partners would have looked like. Picture: Foster + Partners

Suffolk County Council revealed its recommendations ahead of next week’s cabinet meeting that the project, which would have seen a traffic bridge to ease congestion and two smaller pedestrian bridges spanning the river, had been canned.

It came after an announcement last year that costs had escalated by nearly £40million, with pleas to find the funding failing to get the cash.

The Rivers Action Group and Wherstead Road Action Group both raised concerns over the traffic bridge, claiming that it would create rat runs and heavy congestion in areas such as Cliff Lane and Wherstead Road, rather than solving the traffic problem.

Nicky Wilson, chairman of WRAG, said it was a “victory for common sense,” and added: “The decision to scrap the plans for Bridge A is wonderful.

Ipswich Vision chairman Terry Hunt said work would continue on Ipswich's regeneration, despite the setback. Picture: LUCY TAYLORIpswich Vision chairman Terry Hunt said work would continue on Ipswich's regeneration, despite the setback. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

“Myself and other local residents can rest easy knowing that they will not be faced with falling house prices, a negative impact on our environment and increased chances of accidents.

“My mind boggles that this project was allowed to go so far and so much taxpayer money was wasted.”

More than £8m has been spent on the plans to date.

The groups also raised concerns over the way the communication of the scheme was handled, in particular over letters sent out last summer which prompted fears of compulsory purchase powers being used.

Matthew Thomas, chairman of RAG, added: “Right from the start the costs should have been apparent they were wrong.

“The two small bridges should be good for the town.

“A lot of people are very relieved. Cliff Lane is a quiet residential area where people can bring up their families – it would have transformed it into a busy area.

“Wherstead Road suffer quite a bit with traffic anyway – it would have turned their lives into a nightmare.”

Mandy Gaylard, Suffolk county councillor for Holywells and Alexandra, said that residents had continually raised issues over increased traffic, pollution and noise concerns it may have created.

But Terry Hunt, chairman of Ipswich Vision, said it was a setback for the town’s regeneration.

“This is deeply disappointing news, although not entirely unexpected,” he said.

“The Upper Orwell Crossings have been an integral part of the regeneration strategy for Ipswich for a number of years.

“It is now essential that partners and other parties work together to deliver the two smaller bridges, which will open up the key Island Site for potential development.

“I welcome the county council’s assurance that it recognises the importance of a strong and successful Ipswich. I look forward to working with the county council and other Vision board partners on a number of projects to drive our county town forward.”

When first proposed in 2015 the costs were estimated at £96.6m, which comprised £77.5m from central government and £19.1m from the county council. Last summer’s investigation into the costs showed that it now stood at £139.8m.

The council has confirmed however that it intends to pursue the two smaller crossings for pedestrians and cyclists, with £10.8m from its contribution being ringfenced for those works.

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