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Public still barred from new riverside open space a year after completion

PUBLISHED: 13:12 19 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:12 19 January 2020

The raised platform with seating looking out over the river Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY

The raised platform with seating looking out over the river Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY

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A new area of open space on Ipswich Waterfront remains closed to the public and fenced off - almost a year after it was completed.

The new open space on the Waterfront West Bank - currently closed to the public Picture: RICHARD CORNWELLThe new open space on the Waterfront West Bank - currently closed to the public Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

The riverside site - which includes a cyclepath, walkways, new bins, benches, lighting, trees and a viewing platform and seating overlooking the river and downstream to the Orwell Bridge - is bordered by high blue-painted hoardings and locked gates.

The reason is that a railway line used occasionally for shunting operations borders the open space and needs to be fenced off - although with gaps for access across it to the new open waterside space - to ensure the public is safe.

The area was created as part of the £67.4million tidal barrier project opened last February to protect more than 1,600 homes and 400 businesses from flooding.

Environment Agency officials handed over responsibility for sorting out the safety issues last year to Ipswich Port operators ABP.

The open space can be seen on the right at the cut entrance. IP-City is also visible and the compound where homes will be built in use by the contractors Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCYThe open space can be seen on the right at the cut entrance. IP-City is also visible and the compound where homes will be built in use by the contractors Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY

Options have been discussed but no solution has yet been found to the safety issue.

An ABP spokesperson, said: "We continue to work with our commercial partners and relevant local authorities to ensure the area created as part of the Tidal Barrier Scheme on the West Bank meets safe transport standards. We will provide an update as soon as the site successfully passes the required safety checks and can be open to public access.

"It is vital that the appropriate workplace transport standards are met to keep both colleagues and pedestrians safe.

"The rail line has helped transport more than 130,000 tonnes of product since January 2016, which has significant environmental benefits when compared with road transport and has removed around 4,700 lorry movements from the UK road system."

The new West Bank open space Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCYThe new West Bank open space Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY

More than 100 new homes are being built at the end of New Cut West and Bath Street on the compound used by contractors for the tidal barrier and the open space will provide a place for residents to relax, as well as office workers and visitors to the area seeking a place to rest, read and enjoy the spectacular views.

The flood barrier future-proofs Ipswich from flooding from the River Orwell and the impacts of climate change over the next century with a 200-tonne rotating barrier which can be raised in minutes, helping to keep the town safe from tidal surges during storms, plus 1,100 metres of new and refurbished flood walls and a series of floodgates.

The floodgate has a design similar to that of the Thames Barrier and is so large that it is coated with six tonnes of protective paint. The floodgate rotates upwards out of the sea floor into the closed position, holding back dangerous tidal surges that could flood the town.

It is also a major step forwards for the borough council's Core Development Strategy for Ipswich and will release land for development, helping to create an estimated 4,000 jobs.

Looking across the new path to the raised viewing platform and seating Picture: RICHARD CORNWELLLooking across the new path to the raised viewing platform and seating Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

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