(held in the Council Chamber, Ipswich Town Hall, 20 November 2002)
Welcoming people to the Society's meeting our Chairman, Jack Chapman,
explained that the
purpose was to listen to the arguments for and against the building of an
East Bank Link Road.
Vice-Chairman, John Norman, described the planning background and
emphasised that members could contact him with their considered views
because the Society will be making representations at the next stage, a
Public Enquiry into the Second Draft of the Borough Council's Local Plan.
The first speaker was Alan Deville, Chairman of Samuel Beadle, the
developers who wish to create large retail units on the old Volvo site of
the East Bank and to link this with their building of a new road to join the
A14. The road would follow some, but not all, of the protected route
envisaged in earlier plans. Mr Deville argued that Ipswich wants to grow and
so needs better transport links. His plans would provide economic benefits
to the whole area and assistance to a deprived part of the town. His company
would fund the building of the road and the costs of environmental
mitigation, perhaps beyond the means of the public purse. He welcomed the
forthcoming Public Enquiry where his company's plans could be subjected to a
The arguments against the new road were put by Dorothy Casey from Suffolk
Wildlife Trust and Geoff Sinclair of Save Orwell Country Park. Dorothy Casey
said that SWT understands economic needs and rarely objects to development
unless it seriously endangers wildlife sites. In this case there would be
serious and permanent damage to wildlife. She commended the foresight of the
Borough Council who designated Orwell Country Park in 1995 and supported
IBC's present position in removing the new road from the Local Plan. In
similar vein, Mr Sinclair pointed out the value of the Country Park. He
feared that the road would destroy the status of the Country Park and
Piper's Vale Nature Reserve and could eventually lead to new housing there.
Sadly Landseer Road and Nacton Road Residents' Association was not
represented. But the other initial speaker was Bob Blastock of Wherstead Road
Residents' Association. He stressed that the port would continue to grow and
that all the new flats around the Wet Dock would also increase traffic.
Wherstead Road on the West Bank was already subjected to very heavy traffic.
He supported the County Council's original idea that a new road route be
adopted and protected on the East Bank. He believed that Orwell Country Park
would survive despite a new road.
There were many earnest and thoughtful contributions to the debate from the
floor. A sample follows. Gordon Terry, an IBC Councillor, wondered whether
it had been sensible for IBC to designate a Country Park across the
protected line of the potential new road and why there should be local
objections when English Nature and the Environment Agency seemed not to
Peter Odell regretted the absence of Landseer Road residents who suffer from
the lorries using the port. If nothing is done the urban environment will be
even more threatened. Martin OHara, speaking from the point of view of
Associated British Ports, confirmed that two-thirds of the port's activity
was on the East Bank which will continue to grow. ABP supports the building
of a road from the port to the A14. They don't mind what the exact route is
or whether it is built by private retail developers or public money. He said
that a balance must be struck between economic benefits and environmental
Specialists from the developers spoke of their intention to create a
"semi-tunnel" with green bridges over for wildlife and of the likely effects
on traffic, which could be reduced by 20% on Landseer Road. But the contrary
view was put by others who thought that retail development would greatly
increase east-west traffic and that the developers' road was not a relief
road but a means of increasing car-based business.
Suffolk County Council's view was said to be that traffic would increase in
the whole waterfront area so what was needed was a package of investment
which works. Although building roads is
a last resort, where they are necessary the public purse can provide
compensation and mitigation, as in Lowestoft where 'mitigation' accounts for
£10m of the £30m budget for a relief road.
Summing up for the opposition to the East Bank Link Road, a Suffolk Wildlife
Trust speaker argued that an increasing population will need more facilities
for leisure and education, both provided by the Country Park. She approved
of IBC's present position that radical improvements to the Star Lane
gyratory roads and a Wet Dock crossing would be viable without the new road.
Mr Deville's summing up in favour of building a new East Bank Road was to
reiterate that his company's private offer to bring benefits to the
community will remain and he looks forward to the Public Inquiry into the
Ipswich Local Plan when the evidence will be tested by an independent
Jack Chapman thanked all the contributors who had produced "light and not
too much heat", as he had hoped. There was a final reminder from John Norman
that members of The Ipswich Society should write to him or Jack or the
Newsletter with their considered opinions, which will help the Society to
make its representations at the Public Enquiry later this year.