A public consultation for the Ipswich northern bypass has been formally announced by Suffolk County Council and is set to launch in summer 2019; marking a significant step forward for the proposed works. The announcement follows numerous calls for a solution to the impact of traffic in the town, with the East Anglian Daily Times reporting that the consultation could contribute to a strategic business case being put to the government later in the year.
Since 2016, key campaigners for the bypass from Ipswich Borough Council have actively encouraged Suffolk County Council, along with the relevant district councils, to bring the scheme forward for consideration. Leader of Ipswich Borough Council, David Ellesmere, said: “This is a major and complex scheme which will require many partners to work together to bring it about.”
The public consultation will give decision-makers and councils from across Suffolk an indication of how strong public support is for the northern bypass. Individuals and businesses from the proposed area north of the centre of Ipswich will also have the opportunity to better understand the impact the bypass could have on their local area, including housing and employment growth; a particular source of concern for many.
What has happened to date?
Although numerous discussions surrounding a northern route for Ipswich have taken place over the years, here are some of the key dates and milestones:
Significant talks began for a solution to relieve the traffic entering Ipswich from the north, following a dense history of calls for a road to relieve the traffic issues within Ipswich, especially those caused by the closure of the Orwell Bridge.
The stage one study and report into possible highways options was completed, giving insight into the future of transport conditions in Ipswich, based upon the planning backdrop and committed schemes that were identified at the time of reporting.
The options assessment and development was commissioned in May, and is currently being evaluated and prepared prior to the public consultation in Summer 2019.
What do we know?
The stage one study marked a significant breakthrough for the relevant district councils within Suffolk. Commissioned by Kier on behalf of Suffolk County Council, the study was conducted by WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff, a multinational engineering and design consultancy firm, and identified a multitude of existing and future impacts to the transport network in Ipswich. These impacts included the existing gaps in public transport infrastructure, and the expected growth of housing and employment within the wider Ipswich area, plus many more factors in both the immediate and distant future.
The executive summary of this study outlined that action is necessary to avoid the negative impact that expected growth could have on the local and strategic highway network surrounding Ipswich. The study also identified constraints and opportunities within the existing design options, and provided in-depth considerations of multi-modal transport options that could support and facilitate the planned growth of housing developments and employment in the area.
The initial indicative map for possible routes suggested three broad possibilities that are set to be discussed in further detail:
- The outer route, running from Beacon Hill junction at Coddenham to the A12 at Melton.
- The middle route, running from the A14 Claydon junction to the A12 at Woodbridge.
- The inner route, also running from the A14 Claydon junction to the A12 Martlesham roundabout.
The public consultation will begin on the route details, alignment options and junction options for the A14 and A12.
The Strategic Outline Business Case will be completed and shared with the government, local MPs and the general public.
Quoted in The East Anglian Daily Times, Suffolk County Council Leader Matthew Hicks said: “This realistic timeline clearly shows the level of commitment from across Suffolk to take this to the next step.” John Ward, Leader of Babergh District Council, added: “There is still a long way to go before we know exactly what any final scheme will look like, but I welcome this timeline and plan for public consultation as confirmation of the steps ahead.”