Suffolk

Ipswich northern bypass: Council leader opposes plan

Ipswich protest
Image caption In September about 500 people marched to Suffolk County Council's HQ to hand in a petition against the proposed bypass

The leader of a council has said a plan to build a multi-million pound bypass and thousands of homes should not go ahead.

Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council, said the northern bypass around Ipswich "should not proceed to the next phase of development".

The road would link the A14/A140 and the A12, and 15,000 homes would have been built to get government funding.

Mr Hicks said he reviewed the concerns of those living near proposed routes.

Protesters said building the scheme would destroy the countryside, increase pollution and would cost the taxpayer millions of pounds without reducing traffic.

More than two-thirds of people who took part in a consultation over the plan were against it and in September, about 500 people marched to the council's headquarters to hand in a 4,500-signature petition protesting against the proposed bypass.

Image copyright Suffolk County Council
Image caption Three routes were proposed for the northern bypass around Ipswich

In a statement, Mr Hicks said he did not believe the project could proceed "with any degree of success" without the agreement of district and borough councils to build the additional houses needed to secure government funding.

"After careful consideration of the above and the wider political views, along with the very real concerns of families and businesses located close to any of the proposed routes, and all the responses received, it has become increasingly clear that, as leader of Suffolk County Council, I am now in a position to recommend to my cabinet that the Ipswich Northern Route should not proceed to the next phase of development," he said.

Nick Green, from Stop the Ipswich Northern Bypass campaign, said Mr Hicks's statement was "fantastic news".

Conservative councillor Mr Hicks said the project was "a complex issue for everyone in Suffolk".

East Suffolk Council, Mid Suffolk District Council, Suffolk & North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter (Con) and Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey (Con) have all previously said they were against the plan.

"Pursuing a project of this scale and financial size clearly needs widespread political support as, without this, government is unlikely to even support the next phase when £3m is needed to complete the full business case," Mr Hicks said.

Leader of Ipswich Borough Council David Ellesmere, who had supported the plan, said: "It's deeply disappointing Suffolk County Council have now spent £9m on two projects - the Upper Orwell Crossings and northern bypass - for absolutely no result whatsoever, and we are still no nearer to sorting out Ipswich's traffic problems."

Mr Poulter said he was "pleased to have played my part" in the campaign to stop the bypass.

"It is vital that we all now work together to find sensible, evidence-based and sustainable solutions to improving traffic flow over the Orwell Bridge at times of high winds and in our county town," he said.

A final decision will be made on the project at a meeting on 25 February.

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