Poll: Vision to create major new community in east of town

AMBITIOUS proposals to create a major new community in Ipswich could become reality – if a complex game of property chess can be successfully overcome.

The new community – featuring hundreds of homes, shops and possibly a new primary school – would be built on the current site of the Ipswich Academy, together with the Genesis workshops on Wright Road and the Ipswich Transport Museum.

The museum would be offered the current Ipswich Buses depot in Constantine Road and a new bus deport would be built for the council-owned company, possibly near the site of the former Bury Road park and ride site.

The plan is still in its early stages and would take several years to complete – but it could result in hundreds of traditional houses being built in the town.

The Ipswich Transport Museum has a lease on its home in Cobham Road which expires in 2026.

It had hoped to extend the lease in an attempt to mount a bid for National Lottery funding – Lottery rules require applicants to have a lease of at least 30 years on their premises.

The borough refused to extend its lease very far beyond 2026 so the lottery proposal was abandoned.

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The Orwell Mencap Genesis has its headquarters opposite the transport museum on Wright Road – its premises are also leased from the borough and are currently larger than the charity needs.

However borough sources insist it would only move out once new premises had been identified and made ready for use.

The current Ipswich Academy site is not owned by the borough. It is owned by Suffolk County Council and it cannot be sold for anything other than educational use without the approval of the Department for Education even though a new school is currently being built beside Gainsborough Sports Centre.

However if permission for the sale is granted over the next few years, the borough would seek to open negotiations with the county about redevelopment.

No one from the borough was able to comment, but officials at the museum are aware of the proposals.

Mark Smith from Ipswich Transport Museum said: “We are keeping a watching brief on the situation at the moment.

“We certainly are aware that the borough is looking at the possibility of redeveloping this land and the larger sites – but there is nothing concrete.

“There have been discussions about Constantine Road, but of course that is not vacant at the moment and there is no indication whether they are just talking about the bus garage, or include the yard and workshops as well which would be much more attractive.

“There is also the question of cost, of course. It would be quite expensive to convert the bus depot into a museum of the standard we have here and where would the money come from for that, the council isn’t exactly overflowing with cash at the moment.”

The museum was also considering looking at other sites – but was aware that their lease had another 14 years to run.

Mr Smith added: “We certainly aren’t panicking at the moment, but we want to keep our destiny in our own hands and be ready to move if there is an opportunity.”

What do you think of the proposals? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or you can send an e-mail to starnews@archant.co.uk