There have been indications that work could start on one of Ipswich’s biggest new housing developments by the end of this year. The “Ipswich Garden Suburb” – which had planning permission approved by Ipswich Borough Council in April – is set to contain around 3,500 homes in three distinct neighbourhoods, making it one of the largest ever developments in the county town. A spokesman from the council told the East Anglian Daily Times: “Positive discussions are continuing and we are looking forward to developers bringing detailed plans forward as soon as they are able to.”
The extensive new development involves two separate property developers, Crest Nicholson and Mersea Homes, who plan to build 1,100 and 815 new homes to the north of the town respectively. Investments into the area for infrastructure developments such as schools, GP surgeries and road improvements total £9.9 million from Mersea Homes and £14.7 million from Crest Nicholson. Other key features of the development include a pedestrian bridge and a vehicle bridge over the railway line, as well as a primary school, country park and a community centre. The borough council’s bid for investment from the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund totals £9.87 million.
The Ipswich Garden Suburb scheme has a long and somewhat controversial history, with attempts for developments to the north of the town stretching back to the 1980s. When planning permission for the northern fringe was sought in 2016, Suffolk County Council raised serious concerns about various aspects of the planned development, including drainage in the Westerfield area, road infrastructure and the potential for traffic congestion to the north of Ipswich, as well as the provision of new schools within the development.
While the council report from the time indicated there is the potential for a bus route through the new development, this could only be implemented once the entire 3,500-home development neared completion.
Crest Nicholson’s initial plans had been based on an assumption of planning permission being approved in early 2017, with infrastructure work taking place the same year and housebuilding beginning this year. However, this was pushed back due to the range of concerns and objections raised by the council and local residents. Other concerns raised during consultation meetings at the time included the need for serviced retirement accommodation and the provision of bungalows amongst the new housing.
Given the troubled history of the development, it remains to be seen whether work will commence before the end of the year. Once begun, completion of the development is expected to take up to ten years.