This Newsletter contains a good deal of news and comment about proposed big development schemes in Ipswich. I hope you'll find it quite enlightening. One good feature of the welter of planning applications being submitted is that the Borough Council planners will sometimes be able to "set a degree of co-ordination in the area" as Mike Smith, Head of Development Control has said. That was apropos of three new schemes almost in a row on the Waterfront near Stoke Bridge - the burnt-out St Peter's Warehouse, Burton's and Cranfield's. Hitherto, the schemes around the Wet Dock have had to be treated piecemeal.
The possibility of a newly shaped Ipswich is beginning to emerge - where the centre would extend from the Cornhill to the Waterfront, as indeed was the case before the the exodus of people from areas like St Peter's Street, Foundation Street and Fore Street. For that to happen fully, much more investment would be needed to "reclaim" some of those areas between the present centre and the dock. And most of the new residents there, unlike their predecessors centuries ago, will have cars. Which brings us to the other problem - making sure that the new Waterfront isn't cut off by the present traffic canyon of the Star Lane system. I hope I live long enough to see some of this new Ipswich being recreated on its old site down to the Waterfront.
'Gridlock' and After
At the end of a visit to Australasia, my wife and I had a few exhilarating days in Singapore where the astonishingly well-informed taxi drivers all seemed proud of their little city-state. They were eager to discuss anything from race relations to their economy and to the primacy of the English language. We also talked about traffic management. Our first driver indicated how the electronic congestion charging worked. He thought that taxis ought to be exempt from this charge - I agreed - but they have to pay like everybody else. We have a receipt to prove it!
Back in Ipswich, our taxi driver from the railway station wondered how long we'd been away. On hearing the answer he said, "Oh, then you won't know about the disaster we've had here?" [Disaster? What could it be?]
"No, I don't know."
"The Council have created gridlock in the town."
I didn't comment then, nor will I now. As one of only two non-motorists on your Committee, I'm the last person to comment on the new gyratory system in Ipswich. All I will say is what I hope is commonsense. That all changes need time to bed down. That all cities and towns experience bad traffic hold-ups for some or even most hours of the day, as private motoring continues to increase. (The only exceptions I'd guess are new cities built on prairies.) And that the authorities wherever they are will have to go on introducing radical changes simply to avoid worse. I await letters from those of you who really know what you're talking about!
And how to cope with air traffic?
Air traffic will also continue to grow. So I found it thought-provoking to read recent conclusions by Sir Peter Hall, the visionary planner who contributed the last chapter in the Society's book Ipswich from the First to the Third Millennium. He argues that Heathrow should eventually be closed in favour of a new airport on the Thames estuary. It's not a new idea. Several possible sites have been identified, always greeted with incredulity or horror. But why is it that of the five big international airports I used in Australasia, four of them were built on land partly reclaimed from the sea? Must we wait for the M25 to clog up completely or a 747 to fall on central London?
A final thought closer to home
I shall have to be careful. The cover of the April 2002 Newsletter featured the steel framework of the TXU HQ building in Russell Road and the new North Stand at Portman Road. The kiss of death! TXU Energi has sold off its "Energi" minus the new building, which faces an uncertain future. The North Stand has been filled, but for how long? I try not to think it's all my fault.
I await your letters, articles, drawings, ideas for the next Newsletter by 20 February.
NEIL SALMON 16 Warrington Road, Ipswich, IP1 3QU