Ipswich Waterfront plan 'critical to town's future'

An artist's impression of the island scheme Image copyright Ben Gummer MP
Image caption The island in the middle of the River Orwell would be linked to the east and west banks by bridges

A new river crossing in Ipswich would help cut traffic gridlock and "make room" to create jobs, an MP says.

Conservative Ben Gummer, said the plan would open up 20 acres of disused land and cost up to £80m.

It would see a fixed bridge and a swing bridge linking the town with an island site on the waterfront.

Mr Gummer, who is campaigning for the scheme with business and council leaders, said: "This is critical to the future of our town."

He said he would ask the government to fund the crossings across the River Orwell to the island.

Image caption The unfinished "Wine Rack" building was bought by a new owner earlier this year

Island owner Associated British Ports (ABP), the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Suffolk County Council and University Campus Suffolk are backing the plan.

Mr Gummer said work around the waterfront had stalled due to the economic downturn, but the area was now becoming a "centre of excellence" for high-tech industries and services.

'Very exciting'

"We need to make room for further high-quality development if more jobs are to be created," he said.

"The construction of the wet dock crossing would unleash the island site's significant economic potential creating the circumstances for Ipswich's own Enterprise Island."

Image copyright Ben Gummer MP
Image caption The Orwell Bridge is the other river crossing in the town

A large part of the 20-acre (8 ha) island site, which has limited access, is currently used as a lorry park.

Andrew Harston, from ABP, said: "A new crossing and increasing development on the island site would be a significant enhancement to Ipswich."

Two options are being proposed for the bridge crossings. The first would see three bridges built at an estimated cost of £78m, while the second involves two crossings costing £60m.

Mr Gummer said the project would take between 15 and 20 years to complete but hoped one of the bridges would be built within the next five years.

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