Fears raised over fire station plans

CONCERNED residents are urging planning bosses to rethink proposals to build a new fire station next to a Suffolk school, saying there must be better alternatives.

By Danielle Nuttall

CONCERNED residents are urging planning bosses to rethink proposals to build a new fire station next to a Suffolk school, saying there must be better alternatives.

Residents previously won a lengthy battle against plans to build a garden centre on a site close to Kesgrave High School, on the northern side of the A1214 near Ipswich.

But the site is now believed to be one of a handful of potentials earmarked by Suffolk County Council for east Ipswich's new fire station and planning chiefs are understood to be in the process of drawing up early plans.

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The move has angered residents, who packed a meeting at Kesgrave Town Council on Monday night to have their say on the issue.

Veronica Read, Kesgrave Town Council clerk, said: “Part of the land was subject to a planning application in 2000 for a garden centre.

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“Many local residents opposed and were very concerned about the destruction of an ancient hedge.

“The site entrance to the fire station we understand would have been the same for the garden centre.

“So the same residents are very concerned. Residents are understandably perturbed by the consultation and lack of information available to them.

“There could be the destruction of a hedge they thought they had saved and also the noise of a fire station.”

Mrs Read said there were 22,000 vehicles travelling past the school every day.

“Although the fire service operatives have looked at the site, they may not have done so when the school children were leaving school,” she added.

“It does peak at the times schoolchildren are going home. A lot of the children are on bicycles.

“You can imagine the anxiety on the part of residents having big fire appliances exiting that site.

“It makes those young people even more vulnerable than they already are.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said last night: “As part of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) for the Fire and Rescue Service we have looked at a number of locations east of Ipswich for a new fire station, of which a site at Kesgrave is a potential option.

“It is our intention in the near future to submit a formal planning application for the chosen site, and as is routine in such planning applications a formal consultation process with local residents will then begin.”

John Kelso, county councillor for Martlesham and Kesgrave, said there had been rumours about the potential site for a few weeks.

“I am not happy about the selection of site they have got at the moment because it's against the Local Plan, it's very close to the school and because of the traffic congestion it would cause,” he added.

“With this planned, it's understandable the town is unhappy. The county will argue the fire station is urgently needed and there is nowhere else to go. They want this site considered.

“The bottom line is if they need to come out at dropping off time at school, that road is chaos with parking. It's a far from ideal location for a fire station. “There is currently a lot of opposition from members of the public living in that area.

“There must be a better location for this fire station than that one.”

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