Residents oppose northern fringe homes plan

MORE than 100 residents who oppose housing plans for the northern fringe of Ipswich packed into a council meeting last night to listen to councillors discuss the controversial local development framework to identify sites for 15,400 homes by 2031.

Graham Dines

MORE than 100 residents who oppose housing plans for the northern fringe of Ipswich packed into a council meeting last night to listen to councillors discuss the controversial local development framework to identify sites for 15,400 homes by 2031.

A full meeting of the council will be held in September to ratify the strategy, which will then be submitted to the Government for public examination by an independent inspector.

If all sites on the northern fringe - bounded by Henley Road, Valley Road, and Westerfield Road and both sides of the railway line near Westerfield village - are used for development nearly 6,000 homes would be built in the area.


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The council has drawn up a draft strategy in response to demands from the Government and the East of England Regional Assembly that the Ipswich area should be one of the region's growth areas for housing in the next 20 years.

Land for 20,000 homes has to be found in the Ipswich area, with 15,400 of them within the borough, of which 35% have to be affordable. The only major remaining development land in Ipswich is the northern fringe.

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The council has already received two applications for development - one for 320 homes on the existing Ipswich School playing fields and the other for more than 1,000 homes, a primary school and district centre off Westerfield Road.

Council leader Liz Harsant told last night's meeting of the borough's executive held in the council chamber that it would be up to the council on September 9 to decide if the development brief for land across Ipswich should go out to public consultation.

“The document will go out to public consultation for eight weeks and there will be numerous public events where residents can have their say. The council will then send the development framework to the Secretary of State in early January 2010, and an independent planning inspector will hold a formal examination in public.”

Mrs Harsant said: “The inspector will send the council his findings and will be obliged to adopt it. If the inspector changes our draft, we must change it.

“If he says that our policy is unsound, it will not be approved and we will have to start again.”

Mary Young, a Suffolk county councillor for Ipswich, said the borough should wait for the outcome of both the general election and the local government review before finalising its submission document.

“When the future is clear, that is the time to look at housing requirements. Now is too soon.”

She said using the green field sites on the northern fringe made no sense. “It will mean the loss of good agricultural land at a time when Britain is being urged to grow its own food.”

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