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Vision of Ipswich unveiled

PUBLISHED: 14:58 21 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:28 03 March 2010

It takes considerable vision to look 15 years into the future and see how Ipswich will develop as a regional centre during that time.

Strategic planning officials at Ipswich Council have started preparing the area's new local plan for the period up to 2016.

It takes considerable vision to look 15 years into the future and see how Ipswich will develop as a regional centre during that time.

Strategic planning officials at Ipswich Council have started preparing the area's new local plan for the period up to 2016. Political Editor PAUL GEATER has seen the first draft and looks at the major changes foreseen for the town.

HOUSING:

BY the year 2006, Ravenswood should be a distinctive area of the town with its own identity and character – but a further new neighbourhood will need to be built on the opposite side of town.

The proposals to build up to 1,500 new homes between Westerfield and Henley Roads were first outlined in the county council's structure plan.

That rejected proposals to spill the new development to the other side of Westerfield Road, but still confirmed the 1,500 homes on the greenfield site.

Like Ravenswood, this will represent a new community being built with shops, space for business, and a new transport system into the town centre.

The new development will include 450 "affordable" homes built for rent and a new primary school for the area.

That is by far the largest new development planned, but there are other major housing developments also included.

These include 300 homes for the site currently earmarked as the Eastway Business Park between Sproughton and Bramford Roads.

Businesses have been reluctant to move to that site, and last year an outline planning application for homes there was submitted to the borough.

The main problem with the site is that it is believed to be seriously contaminated with industrial waste dumped on the site during the 1950s and 1960s.

Another proposed development site is the old Bull Electric and current Celestion site off Foxhall Road. The local plan foresees 200 homes being built there.

Nearer the town centre, the plan would see 300 new homes being built on land in the Fore Street and Duke Street area.

With hundreds of other new homes also planned for the nearby Waterfront, this would mean that a new primary school would need to be built in the area.

One of the more controversial proposals is that homes should be built on the site of the former Hayhill Allotments – a proposal that has caused a local outcry and the formation of the pressure group Save Our Local Environment (SOLE).

TRANSPORT

ALWAYS a contentious issue in any major planning document, the local plan sees major development of the town's transport network.

Four new road developments are proposed for the Waterfront area, to be built in a specific order:

1) New bridges across the lock gate and New Cut linking Cliff Quay with the West Bank of the river. This would remove heavy traffic from the Star Lane/College Street road network.

2) A new Wherstead Road relief road from Hawes Street to Bourne Bridge. The current road would be for access only.

3) Turning Star Lane into a two-way street, extending it to the Duke Street roundabout, and turning College Street/Key Street/Salthouse Street and Fore Street into a "green route" for buses, bikes and pedestrians only.

4) Possibly building an east bank route from the A14 to the dock to link in with the new bridges across the river.

The new community on Westerfield Road would be served by existing roads into town, but a new Superoute bus link would be developed.

The current road from the town to Westerfield village would be shut and the level crossing closed.

The road would be diverted through the new community and would cross the railway line over a bridge.

Westerfield station would be moved about half a mile along the line to the bridge so it would be in the middle of the community.

SCHOOLS

SUFFOLK County Council as the local education authority was consulted about the local plan while it was being prepared by the borough.

County officials told the borough that no new high schools would be required in the Ipswich area.

This is despite the fact that there is a projected shortfall in the north Ipswich area of 290 high school places by 2006 – even before 1,500 new homes are built off Westerfield Road.

New primary schools are planned for that development and the Waterfront, and Ranelagh Primary could be replaced by a new school on Crane Hill.

TOWN CENTRE

A KEY element of the development of the town centre over the next 15 years is the need to link three distinct areas: The existing town centre, the Waterfront, and Ipswich Village.

The new roads around the Waterfront are seen as vital to progressing the development of this area and integrating it with the town centre.

The local plan also identifies the best site for the next major new shopping centre in the heart of Ipswich after the Mint Quarter is completed probably in about 2005.

The new shopping centre would be built between the Buttermarket Centre and Star Lane, on land currently occupied by the county bus station, and the Evening Star offices.

Planning the development is still in very early days – it would not be built for at least a decade – but the site is seen as a vital "bridge" between the town centre and the Waterfront.

The plan also emphasises the importance of developing the former cattle market site on Portman Road as the vital link between the town centre and Ipswich Village.

WHAT THEY SAY

THE local plan has been drawn up by officials at Ipswich Council, and the first deposit draft has just been sent to local councillors.

It was produced on the instructions of the borough's executive committee. Phil Smart is the executive member with responsibility for planning and economic development on the Labour-led council.

He said today that the plan was a long-term document looking many years into the future.

"If you reflect on how much the town has changed over the last 15 years, you realise how much change you can expect in the next 15," he said.

"There are major issues that have to be addressed – and some are very contentious," he acknowledged.

One of the most controversial aspects of the proposal is that while the local plan envisages more than 4,500 new homes being built in Ipswich, the education authority doesn't see the need for a new high school.

Ipswich Conservative Association chairman Paul West has been leading the criticism of the county council and repeated his call for work to start on planning a new high school.

"The county council's own figures show there will be a shortfall of about 400 spaces by 2006 – even before these new homes are built.

"For them to turn round and say there is no need for any more high schools doesn't make any sense at all.

"Where are they going to put all the extra pupils? The existing schools are already full – and it's a long way from Northgate to Thurleston.

"If Westerfield Road is going to be developed, it's the obvious place for a new high school," he said.

Bryony Rudkin, county council executive member with responsibility for education, said officials would not rule out building a new high school even if one was not needed at present.

"This is something we would keep an open mind about and look at how things develop in the future," she said.

Ipswich Council: www.ipswich.gov.uk

SOLE: www.saveourlocalenvironment.org.uk

Suffolk County Council: www.suffolkcc.gov.uk

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