Ipswich: Gummer demands a high quality development at northern fringe

MP Ben Gummer today urged the borough to ensure that the development of the northern fringe creates a “really special” community that can be a beacon for the rest of the country.

But as he visited the site of the proposed project he spoke of his fears that the new 5,000-home community could become an unimaginative new housing estate.

Mr Gummer said that the need for the town to expand and especially the need for more family homes with gardens over the next 25 years meant that development of the northern fringe was inevitable.

He said: “I have said to the borough that they should be looking to create something truly exceptional here. I would like to have seen the council organise a competition among planning consultants across Europe to develop a masterplan.

“We should have a Rolls Royce development here, not just something that is a larger version of other developments in the area.”

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Mr Gummer has spoken to developers who own parts of the land and also to members of the Northern Fringe Protection Group who want to ensure that any development is of a high quality.

He said: “There are concerns about some elements – there is talk of creating a country park at the north of the site near Westerfield village.

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“That is on poor quality land, but if you concentrate all the green area there, it means the rest of the sites could be crammed with houses on little spaghetti-like closes off a spine road.”

There were also concerns that the only road access to either side of the northern fringe would be through two entrances on to Westerfield Road.

Mr Gummer said that would cause major traffic problems because the roads from that part of the town would struggle to cope with the extra vehicles.

Suffolk County Council is responsible for traffic planning. A spokesman for the transport department said it was still working with the borough on the masterplan.

He said: “It’s important that any new roads do not add to congestion in the town centre, especially as so much work is currently being done to alleviate it. At this stage, we can say that the new development is likely to be served by multiple access points from and to the existing road network.”

How should the northern fringe development take shape? E-mail starnews@archant.co.uk

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