Grant Shapps, the pre-reshuffle Housing Minister, has announced that the first phase of a 22,500 homes scheme can go ahead on 1,000 acres of land in the south-east. Given the amount of time currently being spent discussing the Northern Fringe (which could end up somewhere between 3,500 and 4,500 homes) I wish the community groups, the Local Authorities and the developer a speedy solution to the Master Planning of the Ebbsfleet Valley. Between the Bluewater Shopping Centre and the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge the Ebbsfleet new town will be the biggest development in the south-east for the next ten years.
By comparison the Northern Fringe looks small but that does not mean that the community groups who have been working with Ipswich Borough Council have been quiet. Far from it. The debate has been extensive and time consuming. There are some important areas of disagreement which will need careful negotiation to resolve and clearly a variety of vested interests. I am pleased to report however that the discussions are frank and constructive and solutions will be forthcoming.