Ipswich: Prefab revolt over proposed redevelopment of Rushmere estate

Prefabs in Sidegate Lane

Prefabs in Sidegate Lane - Credit: Contributed

Keep your paws off our prefabs!

That’s the defiant message today from people living in the Rushmere area of town as a debate started over the future of its post-war homes.

The debate was sparked after local Conservative councillor Judy Terry revealed she had held discussions with an architect about designing an alternative housing scheme for the area.

The prefabs were put up in 1947 and had an original lifespan of 10 to 15 years. They are still standing more than 65 years after they were put up – but most of their occupants love their homes.

Jim Oxlade owns his home in Sidegate Lane, and was appalled to hear that there had been any discussion about redeveloping the area.

He said: “I suppose it’s a Labour councillor talking about this!” When told Mrs Terry was a Conservative, he was blunt: “Well, she’s just lost my vote!”

His home is a labour of love and he has created a well-manicured garden: “This is ideal for us as an older couple. I’m 82 and this is the home we want to see ourselves out in.

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“It’s a nice area and a good house. It’s not difficult to keep in order – we’re not council tenants so we have to maintain everything ourselves and it’s fine.”

His neighbour Terry Fisher is also very happy in the area: “We’ve been here 26 years. It’s a great place to live and there’s a real community feel to it. There are no problems with the house.”

Theresa Cowling has lived in her Sidegate Lane prefab for three years: “This is much better than where I was before. It’s been well maintained by the council and I’m very happy here. I wouldn’t want to see the house replaced.”

Inverness Road off Sidegate Lane is dominated by prefabs, and it wasn’t difficult to find fans of the homes there either.

Cynthia Self was walking her dog Buster, and had been outraged to hear any suggestion that the homes might be demolished.

She said: “I’d heard about this and I was disgusted. There are a lot of old people living around here who love their homes and don’t want to be forced out of them.

“I don’t think it will happen, but just by raising the issue in this way Mrs Terry has caused a lot of concern among a lot of people.”

Steve Latimer was also angered by the suggestion: “We don’t think much of this. We have a very strong community here. I’ve lived here three years and my partner has been here five.

“We’ve got some very elderly neighbours and people here keep an eye on each other – people like having their gardens and being bungalows the homes are ideal for older people. This is a dreadful idea.”

Primrose and Brian Gull were also very happy in their home: “I wouldn’t want to move – we’re comfortable here and it’s a nice area,” said Mrs Gull.

However not everyone was a fan of the homes. Douglas Dean would welcome the chance to move to a modern, traditionally-built home.

He said: “The rooms are very small here and there are always problems. There are always things that need to be done to the homes.

“I’d much rather be in a decent new home – it would be much better.”

But Sharon Stammers felt the homes were essential to the character of the area: “Rushmere is Rushmere – and it wouldn’t be the same without these homes.

“People have lived in these homes for 50 or 60 years and are quite happy here. I would not want to move, it’s just what I want,” she said.

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