A somewhat disjointed Remarks column this month in that my first attempt was rejected by the Editor because of duplication – my fault in rushing to get copy in before my holidays. This reworked version reaches you from a Scottish island.
We are touring Scotland by train and ferry and, having reached the end of the line at Mallaig, have crossed the sea to Skye. My first impression of the journey here is: ‘what a marvellous, valuable asset the Victorians left – the permanent way’. Since it was first dug we've had new rolling stock, new engines using alternative power sources and, in the majority of places, new track but the route is everlasting. The tunnels and embankments, the bridges and viaducts would, in most cases, be too expensive to create today but we are certainly using what we have and moving people (and goods) swiftly, safely and efficiently.
By the same score we should support investment in infrastructure in the 21st century: a new Upper Orwell Crossing, for example, but I remain unconvinced that a new bridge will solve Ipswich's traffic problems – in fact it could make them worse!
Additional traffic in Cliff Lane and Station Street puts additional pressure on the junctions where those roads meet the existing radials (Nacton Road and Belstead Road) by way of example. The traffic models I've seen don't take into account vehicles from north east Ipswich using the new bridge to avoid Chevallier Street.
They do make an assumption, however, about the reduction in traffic in Key Street/College Street and suggest the latter could be closed to enhance the setting of Wolsey's Gate. A great idea… if only. Clearly there is much to be discussed, please let me have your thoughts.
You will recall that I asked, by way of a tick box questionnaire at our AGM in April, which building (or building site) in Ipswich you considered to be the biggest eyesore. It wasn’t a very scientific survey and, to make it less so, I suggested some 25 possibilities to get you started. I deliberately omitted the former Odeon cinema at the beginning of Woodbridge Road which gets mentioned by many in casual conversation as being a contender, but nobody gave it a tick in the replies.
Clearly those sites close to the Church of St Margaret are top of many people’s list for want of improvement; a couple of you even suggested better uses for the former Kwikfit garage site.
The results – Bar Fontaine, St Margarets Street (30); Kwikfit site, St Margarets Green (25); County Hall, St Helens Street (26); The Mill (23 Storey tower block) above St Peter’s Wharf (25): Peter’s Ice Cream, Grimwade Street (17); St Peter’s Wharf and environs (14).
There are other ideas afoot, confusingly by two separate consultants. Allies and Morrison, architects and urban planners have produced Ideas for Ipswich for Ipswich Central, whilst Steer Davies Gleave, transport and planning consultants, have produced a Public Realm Strategy for Ipswich Borough Council. The latter comes at the end of a lengthy period of consultation with numerous ‘stakeholders’ and parts of the document are likely to be adopted by Ipswich Borough Council.
Both documents contain ideas for the ‘Gateway’ to the Waterfront: St Peter’s Wharf, Bridge Street and College Street in front of Wolsey’s Gate. I think a considerable number of vehicles will pass Wolsey’s Gate before College Street is closed to traffic. At least a large proportion of the Gateway building sites are now in the possession of the Borough Council.
Have a good summer.