Communities develop, economically, by means of communication. The simple most important factor in economic activity since time began is the ability for mankind to talk to whoever they are trading with. Originally this meant rivers, roads, canals and railways, except that things got in the way - rivers, roads, canals and railways each forming a continuous barrier to the line of communication. The solution - bridges.
And to this day, bridges are sill an important communication link. This is the simple reason that the new bridge across the river connecting Ipswich Village and the former Compair Reavell foundry is essential, not only to the Fairview Homes 'Voyage' development to the west but also to the Civic Quarter on the east bank. Fairview Homes are building almost 400 housing units, mainly low rise grouped around courtyards. Some are live-work units and 25% are 'affordable'. All are within 500m of Ipswich railway station along Ranelagh Road.
The bridge spans 61m from the Fairview development on to West End Road, hanging from a 35m high wishbone pylon with eight suspension wires in four parallel pairs. The soffit of the bridge is some 5m above sea level, which allows clearance for debris during the most severe flood (expected by the Environment Agency to be 4.75m within 50 years) and 2.3m of clearance for inland waterways traffic during normal spring tides. The Gipping still has a right of 'navigation' although all of the locks have been removed.
Although the bridge was an essential condition of Fairview's planning permission, obtaining the necessary landowners' consent was not easy. At the time Compair Reavell owned the foundry, Ipswich Borough Council the bed of the river (and therefore the rights overhead) and Suffolk County Council the derelict land adjacent to West End Road. The bridge is 3.7m wide to allow passage of cyclists and pedestrians and the cycle route continues across the Fairview site to Ranelagh Road. It was named the Sir Bobby Robson Bridge following an Evening Star competition.