The LDF (Local Development Framework) continues its relentless progress through the various requirements of public, officer and elected member deliberation. When it started life the socialists had been running the Borough Council for some 25 years. It has been more recently moulded to suit the current administration and shows slightly different emphasis.
One such noticeable difference is the inclusion of the Northern Bypass, or at least a cry for consideration of such a relief road. The actual wording in the document is:
"The Council will actively encourage key partners to investigate the possibility of a northern bypass, to address the issues of:
- central east-west movement
- movement within and around the north of Ipswich
- the capacity of theA14, particularly around the Orwell Bridge."
The same document predicts that, if built, the road would bypass Ipswich north (rather than south) of Westerfield (i.e. some distance away from the proposed Northern Fringe development, and thus only of marginal benefit).
The key partners referred to above are, in particular, the District Councils of Suffolk Coastal (based in Woodbridge) and Mid Suffolk (Needham Market), neither of which has a need for such a road. Other partners are SCC (the Highway Authority) and the Haven Gateway, both of whom could take a wider overview.
The documents do not actually call for the building of the road, rather that the merits and delivery options are fully investigated. There are a number of issues with such an inclusion. Proposals contained within the LDF should be based on evidence: by suggesting that others investigate need, clearly indicates there is currently no evidence for such a road. Suggesting it will relieve central east-west movement assumes these vehicles currently using Star Lane and adjoining roads on the Ipswich gyratory system will travel a couple of miles north to join the new road, take a single junction hop and then travel a couple of miles back into town to save a few minutes delay on Bishops Hill or Fore Street. This type of journey between adjacent junctions makes up a substantial proportion of current Orwell Bridge traffic.
There does of course remain the outside possibility that such investigation will indicate a Northern Bypass is necessary. What is not available is the cash to fund such a road. If, as seems likely, the road runs between the A14 at Whitehouse and the A12 at Martlesham it is likely to be some 10km in length. Far be it for me to predict the cost per mile but such a sum is clearly more than could be expected of the developers of the Northern Fringe. If it is to be built it will need to be substantially funded from the public purse and thus will need to take its place in the national priority listing. I suspect that the upgrade of the A12 in Essex and the A140 has a higher priority, and that bypasses previously requested for villages in Suffolk Coastal District are of greater necessity.