Planning Application is a Mountain of Information
Mersea Homes and CBRE Global Investors submitted a planning application at the end of July for the first part of the Ipswich Northern Fringe. The application documentation is enormous extending to 171 documents with at least one over 300 pages and several over 100 pages. How members of the public are expected to digest and comment on this remains a mystery! It would be difficult enough to comment by the published deadline of 25th August but the timing could not have been more difficult, falling within the peak summer holiday season –was this deliberate?
To help the public with their responses we will be extracting key issues and publicising a tick sheet on this website and plan to post a flyer to some homes in the north of Ipswich. In addition we will be formally responding on behalf of our members and people who have asked us to represent them.
The application, which is numbered 14/00638, can be found on the Council’s website or by clicking here. It is a hybrid application comprising a detailed application for the development of 80 homes combined with an outline application for an additional 735 homes, a primary school, a district centre and amenity space, such as football pitches and play areas. The site forms the parcel of land south of the railway line between Henley Rd and Westerfield Rd but excludes the Ipswich School playing fields.
We feel the application is premature since the Ipswich Garden Suburb Masterplan has not been agreed or adopted by the Council, as required by the adopted Ipswich Core Strategy. The legal standing of even considering the application will need clarification by IBC. The proposal is non-compliant with many aspects of IBC’s Core Strategy and draft Masterplan including the energy efficiency required for new homes. Unfortunately the housing design appears bland and uninspiring, which is a missed opportunity especially considering the attractiveness of the surroundings.
Many residents will be particularly worried about the proposed highway changes and the need to dig up 330 metres of the Valley Road to upgrade the sewage pipelines and install large sewage storage tanks. This is likely to result in severe traffic congestion over several months but its effects are understated in the application. It is unclear whether the sewage solution is a strategic solution for the entire northern fringe or just for this first phase. Also, whether other pipeline upgrades are required to connect to the Cliff Quay treatment works. Ipswich residents deserve to be informed on this important matter and what level of disruption they might expect.
The traffic assessment as a whole is fundamentally flawed and underestimates the impacts. It is partly based on traffic measurements undertaken during last year’s school holiday to calibrate the traffic models. In addition, no assessment has been made of a new gyratory road system proposed for Westerfield Road that includes a second parallel road being built with grass spaces in between. Detail of how this would work has not been included nor safety aspects concerned with travel to and from the secondary school that is proposed in the Masterplan.
Overall the planning application appears rushed, with many inconsistencies and lacking key information in some areas. Matters are made worse by the difficulty in navigating through such a mound of information where the structure is far from clear, that it has been timed to coincide with the school holidays and little time has been allowed for public consultation on this important matter.
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