Waterfront needs connection with town

AS I strolled round the Waterfront the other day, it struck me how the redevelopment of this jewel in Ipswich's crown really has taken on its own momentum over the last couple of years.

AS I strolled round the Waterfront the other day, it struck me how the redevelopment of this jewel in Ipswich's crown really has taken on its own momentum over the last couple of years.

What is really impressive is that new buildings are springing up all around the area at a time when the national economy is teetering on the edge of recession.

It really does seem that the Waterfront has now achieved the critical mass needed to keep on developing, whatever is happening in the wider economy.

The Persimmon Homes development overlooking Orwell Quay is really now starting to look like the artist's impression we were shown several years ago. And the Neptune Marina development is now well-established.

Cranfield's transformation is continuing apace. It seems that the landscape there has been changing almost daily since the demolition crews moved in during September.

And the Cardinal Lofts development is now really taking shape. Demolition work has also started on Albion wharf - suggesting it won't be too long before work on Knight Development's flats starts.

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I have to admit that I am pleasantly surprised to see the amount of development going ahead.

I've been around long enough to remember the dark days of the late 1980s when dozens of promises about a new era for the Wet Dock (the Waterfront label hadn't been coined then) got trampled when the national economy fell into recession.

I have to admit when Gordon Brown's figures started looking less optimistic I feared developers would pull the plug on the Waterfront.

Thank heavens I was wrong - these developments are powering ahead and bringing in an phenomenal amount of money to Ipswich.

What the town does need to do is ensure that millions of pounds generated by the developments stays in the town and doesn't disappear down the rail line to London or up to Norwich.

It needs to ensure that its shopping centre develops enough to service the homes - and that means ensuring the Mint Quarter is developed as a natural bridge between the Waterfront and the town centre.

That is the challenge for Ipswich in 2006 - if we see some genuine progress on that front over the next year then it really will look as it the town is preparing for take-off.

IT'S Christmas time and the cards have started dropping on to my desk here at the Star.

Those from politicians this year have certainly raised a smile - for just about every reason!

First prize for taste and sheer Christmas joy goes to Ipswich MP Chris Mole. Once again he went to a school in his constituency for a card designed by a youngster.

This year he asked Clifford Road school to design him a card, and after a number were submitted, this design by eight-year-old Casey King was chosen.

Chris told me that he preferred involving local children like this to the standard design for House of Commons cards. “I had considered asking a high school to do me a card this year, but none seemed that keen so I asked Clifford Road for a design - it's really colourful,” he said.

The card I got from UKIP's Tom Wise was very traditonal - reflecting the kind of values you expect to hear from his party.

But without doubt the card that really had me wincing was that from Labour MEP Richard Howitt.

Now I've got a lot of time for Richard. He puts himself about a lot - he worked very hard to get the planespotters freed from Greece.

And he's got guts - over the last couple of years he's spent time as an election observer in both Palestine and Afghanistan.

But what on earth persuaded him to send out a card of himself sitting on a bench outside the European Parliament building? You can get away with this kind of vanity if you're the Queen or the Prince of Wales.

You can just about get away with it if you're Prime Minister (but do expect flak from some parts of the popular press). But if you're a humble MEP? No!

Richard, you've got thousands of schools dotted around the eastern region. How about seeing if one of them can come up with a better design for you next year?