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Vision of the future moves step closer

PUBLISHED: 00:08 05 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:34 03 March 2010

FROM contaminated wasteground to bustling new community in less than five years.

That was the promise outlined today by the company behind the largest new development on Ipswich Waterfront.

FROM contaminated wasteground to bustling new community in less than five years.

That was the promise outlined today by the company behind the largest new development on Ipswich Waterfront.

Persimmon Homes was formally starting work on its 350-home development on the site of Ipswich's old gasworks between Duke Street and the Wet Dock.

But before the land can be built on, chemicals in the soil have to be cleared – it was the most contaminated site in Suffolk.

Part of the site, which had the least contamination, has already been cleared and foundation work on the new homes is due to start within the next few weeks.

But elsewhere the clear-up will take another year.

"We shall have the first homes built and ready for occupation by next June," said Persimmon Homes' managing director Andrew Jay.

"A development of this size would always be built in phases, so the work on clearing the ground is not a major problem in that sense."

However the clear-up is expensive, and Mr Jay admits there was a time when development looked uneconomic.

"It's costing about £2 million to clean the area and a further £1 million to prepare it for the development.

"Because it is near the Wet Dock and the soil is quite soft there is a lot of preparation that needs to be done.

"At one stage we were not sure it was worth doing – but I am delighted that we are now going ahead and re-using one of the most contaminated sites in Suffolk," he said.

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The site itself is of huge symbolic importance to the redevelopment of the whole Waterfront area.

Because of the contamination and the problems with clearing it, many had thought it would be one of the last sites to be developed – although it is in a prominent position.

"The entire development will take about four and a half years to be completed, that is normal for a development of this size," said Mr Jay.

As well as the homes, the development also includes three shops and two restaurants – one in a plaza under a tent-like roof.

When the development is complete, it will not be the end of Persimmon's interest in the Waterfront.

The company also owns land on the west bank of the Orwell between Bath Street and Hawes Street, where it hopes to build an 800-home development around a new marina.

However Mr Jay accepted this was still some years away.

"It is going through the local plan process at the moment – it is a much longer-term project.

"But we have interests in land around the Waterfront area that will give us work for the next 10 years at least," he said.

Ipswich mayor Richard Risebrow was at the official launch to be shown around the site and cut a ceremonial ribbon to mark the start of work – although contractors had started the clean up three months ago.

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