Petitioning sandy.martin.mp@parliament.uk

Save the upper Orwell crossing

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BACKGROUND

On Thursday 30 June 2016 Ipswich received confirmation from the Secretary of State for Transport that the Upper Orwell Crossings project has been designated as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP). It has been awarded around £77million of the £100 million required to complete the project. Suffolk County Council are underwriting the remaining funding. There was a competition for the design of the bridges, won by Foster and Partners (Lord Norman Foster designed the Willis Building, a much loved Ipswich landmark and ranked as no 20 of 116 things to do in Ipswich. Comments on Trip Advisor reviews feed for the Willis Building come from people not just from Ipswich and Suffolk, but as far away as Italy and Canada). If we have a bridge designed by him too, think how that will put us on the map; a town that can claim 2 Foster landmarks could increase tourism revenues for Ipswich. Keep reading…

Spencer de Grey, head of design at Foster + Partners, said: “Ipswich holds a special place in our hearts. The Willis Faber & Dumas Building was a landmark project for the practice, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the town once more. The design of the bridges focusses on enhancing the experience of crossing the Orwell River, increasing interconnectivity and reducing congestion in the town centre. The project also offers the opportunity to consider the design of the bridges in a wider urban context, creating new promenades and public spaces between the riverfront, inner harbour and island.” He added: “We look forward to working with Suffolk County Council to develop and refine our proposals over the coming months to help realise a new urban vision for Ipswich.” Keep reading…

There are a number of fundamental transport and economic reasons to support this project. If you want to see the details, they can be found here with links to further info: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/transport-planning/upper-orwell-crossings

This project is not just about creating 3 pretty bridges or an iconic landmark. This is highlighted in minutes of the Meeting of North West Area Committee, Thursday 14th July 2016 as part of the Upper Orwell consultation process:
“One objective of the project would allow a unique opportunity to redevelop the Wet Dock Island to create a science based hub linked to businesses such as BT at Martlesham Heath, Cambridge University and the University College Suffolk. It would ensure the continued success of the Waterfront area, marina and port and provide a catalyst to the region on the southern section of the town. It would improve connectivity and also relieve the congestion in Ipswich, on the A14 over the Orwell Bridge and at nearby junctions. The major benefits would be to reduce traffic, journey times and costs, improve the accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists, bring more business and skilled workers to the area and regenerate underused land. It was estimated that every £1 invested would result in £6 of economic benefits with the potential of the Wet Dock being successful on its own. However, there was likely to be increased traffic on some local roads although minimising the effects of increased traffic on local roads would be a key element of the project”.

Subject to the planning application approval, construction could start in 2019 and would take two to three years.

Sandy Martin, our newly elected MP for Ipswich has confirmed he is to go to the department for transport this week to ask them to reconsider the plans for the Upper Orwell river crossings. One of Sandy’s pledges for Ipswich was to put the northern bypass campaign ahead of the upper orwell crossings. He wants to do this by asking them to build only the smaller two bridges, not the main road route across the whole river and to redirect the money at the northern bypass campaign (which is in its infancy).

The following  Q and A is on the council website:

“Q: Is there a possibility that just one of the crossings could be built?
A: The funding from the Department for Transport is for three crossings. Single bridge options were considered as part of the Outline Business Case but discounted because they did not achieve the project objectives.
Q: Can this funding be used for other local transport proposals, such as a northern relief road?
A: No. The money has been awarded following approval of the Outline Business Case for the Upper Orwell Crossings and is non-transferable. The Outline Business Case (available on the website), demonstrated the project is very high value for money and would deliver traffic and economic benefits to Ipswich."

MAIN ISSUES

1. The upper orwell crossings project is ready to go with money already allocated by the government, plans drawn up and millions already spent on it. Revising/potentially derailing it is a waste of money.

2. It has been given a status of high importance in the development of Ipswich’s infrastructure.

3. It is proposed to have great economic benefit to the town and include raising more tax revenues which means more money for the council to spend on local education, health care, those living in poverty; all the things the Labour party pledged to tackle in their manifesto

4. It will benefit the best redevelopment of the wet dock island. There have been discussions about creating a technology park on the brownfield site. Great for future generations of Ipswich. Think about the success of the Cambridge science park, or BT at Martlesham and the economic impact they have. How desirable would a water-fronted tech park be for employees over an industrial estate on the edge of town? Would make people want to move here.

5. It will be an iconic landmark, increasing tourism for Ipswich (more £ revenue).

6. The northern bypass is not ready to go. I don’t think it’s even on a list of approved projects for consideration by the Department for Transport, so there’s no guarantee it will ever be considered for funding.

7. No-one has said we can’t have both the bridges project and the northern bypass.

8. No-one has said the northern by-pass is less likely to be built because the upper orwell crossing project goes ahead (except Sandy).

9. There is a chance Ipswich ends up with neither project.

Please support our bid to save the upper Orwell crossing by signing this petition. 

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  • sandy.martin.mp@parliament.uk

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