Why we have no Ipswich northern bypass – former Suffolk Council chief

Former Suffolk County Council chief executive Clifford Smith.

Former Suffolk County Council chief executive Clifford Smith. - Credit: Archant

A northern by-pass across the top of Ipswich was almost built in the 1990s.

Land was bought, a route was marked out, and much of the funding was pledged by developers before the proposal collapsed in the teeth of opposition from communities that would have been damaged by the new road.

The proposal was put together by Suffolk County Council – and the authority’s former chief executive Clifford Smith remembers the level of opposition that was unleashed and ultimately led to its abandonment.

He said: “We had drawn up the route and bought most of the land that was needed. Once the route was published the properties were blighted and as they came up for sale we bought them up.

“There was money available from the developers of the Grange Farm estate (at Kesgrave) and everything was ready.”

Mr Smith said road would have taken traffic to the north of Ipswich to link up with the A14 near Claydon: “It was the route people have been writing about now.”

However as the council prepared to apply for traffic orders and to get the rest of the finance together, opposition to the road took off.

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Mr Smith said: “There was a great fight against the road from the communities like Westerfield and other villages that would have had the road go through them and from those concerned that it would damage the Fynn Valley.

“Eventually this was so great that the road was abandoned and the land that had been bought up was sold by the council in the early years of this century.”

The road would have helped traffic from East Suffolk reach the A14 (then the A45) more easily – but Mr Smith said it would not have done much to ease congestion in Ipswich itself.

He said: “All the traffic modelling showed that it would only cut traffic in the town centre by a tiny amount, less than 4%, except on those rare occasions when the Orwell Bridge is completely shut.”

The campaign to build a northern by-pass is gathering momentum – although considerable obstacles remain.

As well as the likely opposition from communities to the north of the town the likely cost of the road – some estimates have put it at in the region of £200m – means it could be many years before any decision is made to build it.