Three areas in Suffolk mooted for a new ‘garden town’ of 15,000 homes

Development off the A14 was one possibility for a garden town, the ResPublica report said. Picture:

Development off the A14 was one possibility for a garden town, the ResPublica report said. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Suggestions for a ‘garden town’ of 15,000 homes to the north of Ipswich have been branded “absurd” and “undeliverable” by one of the county’s MPs.

Dr Dan Poulter thinks the plans for a huge snow centre in Great Blakenham are still 'unlikely' Pictu

Dr Dan Poulter thinks the plans for a huge snow centre in Great Blakenham are still 'unlikely' Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

A controversial report published on Thursday and costing taxpayers £66,000 outlined potential measures for Suffolk to meet its housing shortfall.

One such suggestion was the development of a new ‘garden town’ in either Mildenhall, along the A14 corridor, or to the north of Ipswich.

But Dr Dan Poulter, Conservative MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich poured scorn on the Ipswich proposals and raised serious concerns over Suffolk County Council’s commissioning of the document from think tank ResPublica.

“Any suggestions of building over the north of Ipswich on greenbelt land, and housing in an area of outstanding natural beauty, is undeliverable and frankly extraordinary to even suggest it,” he said.

“I think it was very disappointing this report was even commissioned.

“ResPublica do very good work but they are a think tank used to doing national policy,” he said, adding: “In that respect I think it was very hard for them to understand what actually the issues that future residents in the local area are [facing].”

“I don’t think residents should get unduly alarmed about these proposals but should be alarmed that nearly £70,000 of taxpayer’s money was spent on it.”

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The report said that the county council owns land near Mildenhall which has been allocated for housing in the local plan, while upgrades to the A14 corridor could also provide an opportunity for a new settlement.

A proposed Ipswich northern route could unlock development for more than 15,000 homes in another northern fringe development, it said.

The report continued: “This is an approach being pursued in neighbouring counties such as Essex.

“There is general support for the idea among stakeholders, and it would represent a more strategic response, as opposed to simply relying on infill and modest extensions to existing settlements.

“It would also provide an opportunity to think more strategically about housing growth, justify significant infrastructure investment and demonstrate to government that Suffolk is serious about increasing the supply of housing.”

However, the report’s author did acknowledge that a garden town should “not be seen as the solution in itself” and “would not be realised for some years to come”.

A spokesman from Forest Heath District Council, said: “We welcome the report’s suggestion of the continued close and good work by Suffolk public services to tackle challenges such as the housing need.

“West Suffolk is a growing area with businesses and developers investing here. We will look at the suggestions made in the report as well as current and future local policies to meet housing need which are formed by engaging and consulting with residents, businesses and stakeholders.

“Options for future development and the management of growth will considered and consulted upon through the West Suffolk Local Plan process.

“The council is currently in the early stages and consultation will start late 2019.

“While land in Mildenhall has been identified for development in the emerging local plan, at the moment there are no plans for a garden town. Any future proposals will be looked at to bring the most benefit for our communities.”

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