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Does Ipswich northern bypass decision put other infrastructure schemes in jeopardy?

PUBLISHED: 09:42 03 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:42 03 March 2020

Funding to aid traffic problems on the A14 in Suffolk are linked with a requirement to build 30,000 homes.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Funding to aid traffic problems on the A14 in Suffolk are linked with a requirement to build 30,000 homes. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

SARAH LUCY BROWN

Fears have been voiced that necessary infrastructure improvements needed in the county will never go ahead unless the county’s authorities are willing to take on new homes.

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, questioned how viable infrastructure projects were when districts were not willing to take homes as part of the deal. Picture: IBCDavid Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, questioned how viable infrastructure projects were when districts were not willing to take homes as part of the deal. Picture: IBC

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere outlined his concerns at Friday's Suffolk Public Sector Leaders meeting of all council leaders and chief executives.

READ MORE: Calls for A14 improvements

He referenced the splintering of the Ipswich northern bypass scheme, which Suffolk County Council opted not to pursue when East Suffolk Mid Suffolk and Babergh councils agreed they could not support housing growth by around 15,000 homes, and said it put other schemes in jeopardy.

"There are two major infrastructure projects in Ipswich that have bitten the dust - the Upper Orwell Crossings and the northern bypass - and we have got to think about how we deliver major infrastructure projects in future because we haven't got a great track record," the Labour leader said.

"While there were a lot of people in rural Suffolk very happy [with the county council's bypass decision] I can assure you in Ipswich there are a lot of very unhappy people about the decision, and they need to see some clarity."

Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks said each infrastructure project was assessed on its merits. Picture: GREGG BROWNSuffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks said each infrastructure project was assessed on its merits. Picture: GREGG BROWN

He added: "The county council is talking about junction improvements on the A14.

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"In the business case that was being put forward for that by MPs they are talking around those delivering an additional 30,000 homes.

"If we can't get the agreement of the district councils around Ipswich for 15,000 homes, how on earth are we going to get them to take an additional 30,000 homes? Therefore even the second best options may end up not being viable as well."

Despite any future work on a bypass not happening, Conservative leader of Suffolk County Council Matthew Hicks said a task force would be looking at various options for traffic around town, including cycle routes and public transport improvements, and highways upgrades among others.

Mr Hicks said: "We need to look at each individual case for its merits, and the reasons behind it.

"The district councils are responsible for housing, they have their local plans. As we look at each case we have to look at each on its merit.

"The task force is going to look at a wide number of things, not just highways.

"It needs to look at rail, at cycling, at air quality. What I don't want to do is inhibit the task force and give them the ability to look at things they need to look at.

"We are the highways authority, so we will have to be the ones that have to deliver anything. It will be up to us ultimately to get the funding or to put the funding in place to deliver some of the recommendations."


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