Ipswich: Gummer’s relief that new town abandoned
10:00 15 December 2012
PROPOSALS to turn Ipswich into a massive new town similar in size to Peterborough or Northampton would have been a disaster for the whole of east Suffolk.
That is the verdict from the town’s MP after reading about the proposals that emerged in the 1960s.
Ben Gummer said he found the document unearthed by the EADT “fascinating” – but was relieved that planners from the town and the county combined to ensure the area expanded in a more manageable way.
The Labour government of the 1960s had proposed that two huge new communities should be built beside Ipswich centred on Belstead and Bramford.
Each would have a population of about 60,000. Their development would have seen the population of Ipswich increase from 123,000 to between 245,000 and 270,000. In the event the population of the town today is 138,000 – 155,000 if the new developments at Kesgrave, Rushmere, and Pinewood are added to the borough figure.
Mr Gummer said the proposed new developments appeared to be so large that they would have changed the whole character of the town.
“I am very glad it didn’t happen – it would have ruined the town. All over the country we have seen huge 1960s estates that are now having to be pulled down because they didn’t work.
“The 1960s development in the centre of Ipswich (Greyfriars) was a disaster and was pulled down decades ago.”
He believed that putting homes for more than 100,000 people on the edge of town would have led to the construction of huge estates.
“That really would have been a disaster for the town and the wider area – if you look at the places where there was major expansion, like Peterborough, the results were – at best – very mixed.
And he felt that the way the town had expanded – with borough planning chief Geoffrey Ramsdale working with the county council’s Clifford Smith to promote its development as a technology centre at Martlesham and the financial sector in the town centre – had been a much better option.
Mr Gummer added: “Clifford Smith is a model local government officer, the more I hear of his work, the more impressed I am.”