Liz Harsant was elected Councillor in 2002 to represent Holywells Ward and in 2004 became Leader of Ipswich Borough Council, in a joint administration (Conservatives /Lib Dems) for 6½ years. Amongst other things, community spirit is one of the reasons that Liz writes for Waterfront Life.
Like me, I expect you often walk along the Waterfront and under the Winerack looking upwards and wondering when, if ever, it will be developed. Well John Howard tells me it will! Then we have the promised development in Holywells Ward on the corner of Duke Street and Tye Road. This land was to be used for a school, but obviously Suffolk County Council didn’t think it was needed and after lots of attempts by many local people to purchase the site, it was sold at auction at a huge price. We are waiting for the new owner’s planning application to come forward for consideration by the Committee but we know it will be apartments. On the West Bank, Persimmon are about to develop a site near to Felaw Maltings and so all of this begs the question what about the infrastructure – the road network, lack of doctor’s surgeries, schools and the inevitable question of car parking.
I attended a business lunch last Friday when Dominic Richards was the guest speaker. He is the Founder and CEO of Architekton, a visionary architect-developer and is regenerating an urban site in Norwich. When asked if he would consider coming to Ipswich he told us that Ipswich must do something about Star Lane, so that the Waterfront and the Town centre can be joined together. His vision is creating places that celebrate local identity, mixed uses, sustainable communities and walkable neighbourhoods; thus making the car less important - that social housing should be pepper potted and the development should allow for young and old to live in harmony together.
So will this ever happen in Ipswich – it would take a brave politician to close even one lane of the gyratory system in Ipswich, but if the Foster Bridge is built then as it opens, surely Star Lane should be reduced to one lane immediately.
Whatever happens over the next few years there is a desperate need for improved infrastructure and for some innovative thinking as to how businesses can be encouraged to this area; to produce the jobs that will be needed to sustain these new neighbourhoods.