Long wait for fringe decision

A FINAL decision on whether to allow more than a thousand new homes to be built on land in the northern fringe of Ipswich is not expected until much later in the year.

Mersea Homes wants to build 1,085 homes, a new small shopping centre and a new primary school on the site between Westerfield and Henley Roads, bordering on to the railway line.

Its application was turned down last year by borough planners who want to wait until 2016 to draw up a masterplan for the entire northern fringe of Ipswich, which will include other land off Henley Road to the north of the railway line and land on the other side of Westerfield Road.

The public inquiry into the application was completed last week – but it will be several months before a decision comes back to Ipswich.

The borough’s spokesman for planning and economic development, Richard Atkins, is not expecting a quick decision.

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He said: “We understand that when the appeal was lodged it went right up to the minister, so the decision on this will have to go to the same level.

“Only of course there will be a new ministerial team who will have to go right back to the start before making any decision on something like this.

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“We aren’t expecting any decision before the late summer or early autumn at the earliest.”

The council is opposed to the Mersea Homes proposal because it wants a comprehensive scheme to be drawn up for the northern fringe.

“We want to ensure the whole project is properly thought out before work starts – but there could be an issue with getting enough new homes built in the town by 2015.”

Local residents have been opposed to the development and have formed the Northern Fringe Protection Group.

Pete Galpin from the group spoke at the public inquiry said residents shared the fears of the borough council that a piecemeal development would damage future opportunities for a comprehensive scheme for the area.

He said: “There is no justifiable case for developing the Mersea site in advance given the risks involved. Failure to get this right means there’s no second chance.

“Mersea’s position is driven purely by commercial interests – the NFPG doesn’t believe these should take priority over the interests of the town – especially given this is the last chance to get it right.”

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