Town's expansion worries residents

GRAVE concerns have been raised by residents today over the possible locations of thousands of new properties in Ipswich.Ipswich Borough Council has outlined a number of options for housing across the town over the next 13 years in its Local Development Framework, ranging from the densely-populated area of Cauldwell Hall Road, which could mean 'garden grabs', to the large site of St Clement's Hospital in Foxhall Road.

GRAVE concerns have been raised by residents today over the possible locations of thousands of new properties in Ipswich.

Ipswich Borough Council has outlined a number of options for housing across the town over the next 13 years in its Local Development Framework, ranging from the densely-populated area of Cauldwell Hall Road, which could mean 'garden grabs', to the large site of St Clement's Hospital in Foxhall Road.

The LDF, which is not equivalent to any planning permission, has been set up to meet the government's target of 15,400 houses within the Ipswich borough boundary, by 2021.

The council's "preferred options" include building 442 houses on gardens across Ipswich, including 116 south of Bramford Road and 25 at the back of Cauldwell Hall Road and Kemball Road. However the council has insisted that there will be no compulsory purchases.

Among the more controversial sites outlined in the plan are 43 housing units on the all weather area in Halifax Road, which the council has spent thousands of pounds on providing new play equipment, 160 units in Suffolk Road, 97 houses near the former driving test centre in Woodbridge Road and 512 houses on the grounds of St Clement's Hospital.

Residents are currently being given the chance to put forward their opinions on the framework during a consultation, which finishes in the next couple of weeks.

Most Read

Labour leader David Ellesmere is concerned that many residents, who will be affected by the proposals, have not been informed about them, and will not have a chance to voice their opinion on some of the more controversial proposals.

Mr Ellesmere said: “The council appears to have kept many people in the dark about its plans. I spoke to a number of people who live round London Road allotments. Not a single one had been made aware of the council's proposal to build housing on the allotments. Now, to add insult to injury, the council won't even arrange a public meeting for residents to have their say on these plans. It is simply not good enough for something this important to the future of Ipswich.”

Ward councillor for St John's, Neil MacDonald added: “It is important the council has a plan. It is good to have a consultation but the council could be doing more of consultation.

“There are very few green spaces in the St John's ward and I would like to see more green spaces, not less.”

The council has said that there is no need to build on the northern fringe to meet government's housing targets, but that some of the northern fringe should be shown as a possible area for future development beyond that date.

The deadline for any comments or objections is February 25. For more information about how to do this, visit www.ipswich.gov.uk.

What is your view of the plans? How will they affect you? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Deputy leader of the council, John Carnall, said: “This is a consultation exercise on the fact that the government wants us to provide 15,400 new homes within the Ipswich borough boundary, by 2021. We are now consulting about possible sites. We have given an assurance that we would not compulsory purchase people's gardens.

“We have reservations about this target figure and we have mentioned the need for extra money on Ipswich infrastructure spending on schools, traffic management and health facilities.

“We have sent letters to people living around sites that have been proposed-those living adjacent to the sites. We have arranged for discussions to take place at area forums and there are also drop-in surgeries at the Corn Exchange. We have tried our very best to consult people.

“We have to consider all the comments that are made during the consultation and then come up with a draft plan which would firm up possible locations for development, which would not happen until the end of the year.”

He explained that the proposals would also have to be approved by a planning inspector so there is not likely to be any development started until 2010.

Eric Parsons and his wife, Janet, are among the hundreds of residents that could potentially be affected by the development at St Clement's Hospital.

Mr Parsons, who lives in Dover Road, spotted a leaflet pinned to the gates of St Clement's Hospital detailing the idea for housing on the site. As it appeared the proposed housing was cutting across gardens, he contacted Ipswich Borough Council, who then rectified its mistake, but is still concerned about any future development.

Mr Parsons issued leaflets to all those in the area, many of whom were apparently unaware of the proposals, and hundreds then turned up to a residents' meeting to discuss it.

He said: “People are very angry about this. The map has been changed. People wanted to know what they were doing with their back gardens. It is outrageous.

“A lot of people in this area work in the hospital so it would affect them.

“The only place where these public notices were put was by the main gate.”

It is thought the proposal is to move St Clement's Hospital to the Heath Road site and build 512 new homes in its place.

Mr MacDonald added: “There is also the issue of St Clement's Social Club, Members of the club would be very unhappy if they lost that facility. It is quite vibrant.”

Ray Atkinson, 64, was outraged when he stumbled across a notice in Lacey Street, outlining the option for 11 houses to be built in the area.

Mr Atkinson, who lives next to the proposed site in Lacey Street, said: “The consultation process is seriously flawed.

“The only notification of the council's proposals has been one small notice toughly-taped round a pole outside Morpeth House. This in a street bedecked with a number of larger notices, prominently displays concerning parking.

“No one else had spotted this notice. People have not been informed about this. How can they protest or even express their view if they have not been informed?

“No one seems to have done any investigation on this site. Morpeth House is a Victorian house of significant local historical interest. Any attempt to modify the building would be of great concern to the Ipswich Society and the Ipswich Building Preservation Trust.

“The whole thing stinks. To even allocate this site for an extra 11 houses is an absolute no-no.”

He added that the grounds provide a valuable green space, particularly in light of the nearby development over the Hayhill Allotments.

The Maidenhall Residents Association has also strongly objected to the site allocated for housing at Halifax Road.

The potential for 43 houses to be built on the site of the children's play area has caused much controversy in the area,

Graham Moore, chairman of association, said: “We have put a big protest to the council about it.

“We are not happy about losing these facilities without getting any replacements for them.”

The site includes properties to be allocated over the children's area, which the council improved last year at a cost of £55,000, as well as a bowling green and a bowls pavilion, where the association meets.