Ipswich: Could northern by-pass rise from the grave?

The proposed by-pass would be built near Westerfield.

The proposed by-pass would be built near Westerfield.

After a week that has seen Ipswich grind to a halt because of problems on the A14 at Nacton, the idea of building a northern by-pass for the town has been revived by the borough.

It is one of the proposals to develop the town that is contained in the latest revision of the borough’s local plan, to be discussed by its executive next week.

However the idea soon came under fire from the county councillor representing villages that would play host to the road – and the town’s own MP.

Discussing road issues that are likely to affect the town between now and 2031, the draft plan says: “This alternative capacity could also be provided via a northern by-pass of the town.

“The council will actively encourage key partners to investigate the possibility of a northern by-pass, to address the issue of:

(i) central east-west movement;

(ii) movements within and around the north of Ipswich; and

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(iii) the capacity of the A14, particularly around the Orwell Bridge.

“The council will work with neighbouring authorities and Suffolk County Council to ensure that the merits and delivery options for some form of northern by-pass are fully investigated.”

Proposals for a northern by-pass of the town were floated in the 1990s – the road would have gone through parishes including Westerfield, Tuddenham, and the two Bealings – but following massive opposition and the lack of support from central government they were dropped.

Peter Bellfield is the county councillor representing the villages to the north of Ipswich. He felt local residents would continue to be opposed to the proposal – and he would be happy to represent their concerns.

“I was not on the council at the time of the previous proposal, but I am aware of the major concerns.

“However I have to say that such a road would have to be built with government money, and given the current constraints on expenditure and other priorities, I don’t think it is likely to be built any time soon.”

The borough rules out building a by-pass as part of the northern fringe development between the town and Westerfield – a position which attracted the scorn of town MP Ben Gummer.

“They’ve produced a masterplan for the northern fringe which could easily have included a relief road which would have solved all the problems.

“But they have ruled that out – saying the road should be built outside the borough where no one wants it. This is just the kind of thing you expect from the borough!” he said.

Suffolk cabinet member for transport Graham Newman said the issue of building a northern by-pass for Ipswich had never completely disappeared, but he did not think there was any likelihood of it being seriously considered in the near future.

He said: “At the moment there are other proposals that would be ahead of it in any medium to long term plans, like another river crossing in Ipswich.

“It is something that might be considered from time to time, but like Peter Bellfield, I don’t see it as anything to expect in the foreseeable (future).”

The Suffolk Chamber of Commerce has been concerned about the impact of road delays on business in the town. Chief executive John Dugmore said: “Infrastructure is one of the key issues for business in Ipswich and across Suffolk.

“Firms large and small that rely on being able to move around freely on our ageing road network will always welcome alternatives being considered that will allow them to deliver as a business without the concern of being stuck in traffic on a regular basis.”