23 October 2014, 12:23
A new campaign has been launched to kick-start the multi million pound development of the Island Site at Ipswich Waterfront.
MP Ben Gummer is leading the project following the successful regeneration of the Waterfront itself, transforming into one of the liveliest and most attractive parts of town full of cafés, restaurants and a growing number of shops and small businesses and home to University Campus Suffolk.
The idea is part of his Ipswich 2020 vision and involves the construction of new bridges linking the Island Site to the east and west banks of the Orwell. This will open the site up for development and see the construction of a new east-west traffic route to the south of the town centre.
The new bridges would cost around £60 million to build, for which Ben has vowed to campaign for funding from the government.
He said: "In our waterfront, we have one of the most attractive, dynamic and dramatic settings for new enterprise in the region. It is fast becoming a centre of excellence for hi-tech industries and innovative professional services but we need to make room for further high-quality development if more jobs are to be created. The construction of the Wet Dock crossing would unleash the Island Site's significant economic potential creating the circumstances for Ipswich's own Enterprise Island.
"For too long Ipswich has shied away from big, aspirational projects. From my previous campaigns, from the new heart centre at Ipswich Hospital to new school buildings, I have learned that with persistence, these ambitious campaigns can be won. I am confident that, with the support of the Suffolk County Council, University Campus Suffolk, the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and Associated British Ports, I can get the investment required to build the Wet Dock crossing and start the development of the Enterprise Island."
The 20 acre site is currently owne by Associated British Ports. Andrew Harston from there said: "ABP is positive about the proposal for a Wet Dock crossing and the development of the Island Site as an Enterprise Island. A new crossing and increasing development on the Island Site would be a significant enhancement to Ipswich and would build on the considerable success of the marina, which ABP has played a key role in helping to create."
There are two options for development. The first involves three bridges, one fixed span bridge over the New Cut linking the Island Site to Wherstead Road on the west bank of the Orwell, and one opening bridge at either end of the lock between the Wet Dock itself and the River Orwell, linking the Island Site to Landseer Road on the east bank of the river. This would cost approximately £78million.
The second option involves just two bridges. One fixed span bridge over the New Cut and a single bridge at the southern end of the Island Site, linking it to the east bank of the Orwell and to Landseer Road. This would cost approximately £60Million.
Richard Lister, Provost of University Campus Suffolk said: "Ipswich is well positioned to take advantage of growing demand for high-tech goods and services, as well as cutting-edge creative arts. The Waterfront site is developing a reputation as a centre of excellence in both of these fields and University Campus Suffolk is very keen to support their development."
Mark Pendlington, Chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership said: "Ipswich is a major economic and growth hub for the New Anglia economy and we want to secure even more investment and more jobs for the area. That's what is at the heart of our economic plan as we work with others to release even greater potential in Ipswich. This is already a centre for world class companies, state of the art innovation and the best in education and skills training. The Waterfront is developing fast, and has great future potential. Which is why this latest plan for the Wet Dock is exciting. We look forward to hearing more as the plan develops."
County Councillor Graham Newman, Suffolk's Cabinet Member for Roads, Transport & Planning said: "This is a potentially fantastic opportunity to open up the so-called island site at Ipswich waterfront, whilst at the same time providing a new road route to relieve traffic congestion in the ever-busy Star Lane one way system. This would in turn achieve the long-standing objective to improve access between the Town Centre and the Waterfront."