Agenda item

Presentation: Ipswich Northern Route Consultation

Minutes:

22.1.    Ms Suzanne Buck, Project Manager for the Ipswich Northern Route, gave a presentation with the following key points:

·           Project would seek to address journey reliability and support ambitions for significant future growth

·           Proposals would seek to relieve traffic on the A14 in general, which was operating close to its capacity, not just when the Orwell Bridge was closed

·           In 2016, Public Sector Leaders Group provided £200k for an initial study, and then a further £550k in 2018 to develop a Strategic Outline Business Case, which would now include scope for the provision of up to 15,000 new homes

·           4 objectives: improve experience of using A14 and provide additional route resilience; support existing local economy through improved connectivity; provide additional travel options to optimise road capacity in Ipswich leading to environmental improvements; support new homes and jobs growth in Suffolk

·           31 options were considered, which resulted in 3 route options to the north of Ipswich

·           Outer route: likely to attract fewer vehicle trips, but would offer an East-West route without passing through Ipswich

·           Middle route: would attract more vehicle trips as an alternative to using A12/A14; however, increased cost as existing A14 junctions did not have capacity 

·           Inner route: would provide greatest benefit as an alternative route to driving through Ipswich, but higher cost due to constraints from existing infrastructure; cost could be reduced if Park and Ride relocated

·           Cost of the 3 routes fell within £500million - £560million, based on 2027 prices

·           Recent declarations of Climate Emergency by SCC and district councils were likely to increase the environmental examination of the proposals

·           10-week public consultation would run up to 13 September 2019, with a variety of public engagement events, and a consultation questionnaire was available for the public to provide their views on the principles of the project

·           Project website, including Q&As, was available at: www.ipswichnorthernroute.org.uk

22.2.    Councillor Leeder: How do the project objectives, e.g. economic development, environmental improvements, sit within the business case; are some objectives considered more important than others?
The objectives were currently given equal weight, but this could change going forward, for example, if growth was to be given a higher priority.

22.3.    Councillor Leeder: Would a preferred option be recommended in the Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) or later?
The SOBC would be presented to the Public Sector Leaders Board, together with the consultation report, for consideration; the SOBC would not be making a recommendation on whether or not to proceed, but would provide an outline of the potential benefits and issues relating to the 3 routes.

22.4.    Councillor Holmes: Will the new route be a bypass/relief road or a strategic road? The outer route could be considered as a strategic road as it would complete the ring with the lower road.
The road would be a strategic road as it would be for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians; the term ‘bypass’ has gone out of favour these days.

22.5.    Councillor Holmes:  In the highways modelling data published in January, it stated that the A12 and A14 would exceed their capacity by 2031. It would be difficult to build a business case if these roads were not considered significantly congested by 2031.
The Local Plans across the Ipswich Strategic Planning Area (Ipswich, Suffolk Coastal, Babergh, Mid Suffolk) were currently considering the period up to 2036. Much of the road network would be under stress by 2026, and with the proposed growth, there would be difficulties by 2036.

22.6.    Councillor Holmes: All the Local Plans state that they could be accommodated within the current road network.
The Local Plans might be accommodated, but there could be a detrimental effect on the road network.  The SOBC would need to demonstrate impacts and benefits of the proposals.

22.7.    Councillor I Lockington: I have asked for data for Tuddenham Road on behalf of a resident, as figures were provided for Henley Road and Westerfield Road, but not Tuddenham Road, and the resident was concerned as they live near where the inner route would pass, if this was to be the preferred route.
This request has been passed onto the consultants and the information would be forwarded when received.  Connectivity with the wider network has been based on how traffic currently travels; as Tuddenham Road has a pinch point, the outcome from traffic modelling could change where the new route would be located.

22.8.    Local resident: Little weight was given to Climate Emergency in the presentation. There would need to be more investment in sustainable transport if carbon neutrality was to be achieved by 2030. Will these proposals achieve that?
The Climate Emergency declaration by SCC was made in March 2019 after all of this work had been done, so consideration of Climate Emergency declarations would have to be done at the next stage of the project. At its July Cabinet meeting, SCC outlined how it would develop its Climate Emergency Strategy. The environmental impact of any new road would be a key consideration regardless; for example, the proposed Sudbury relief road project was not progressed past the second stage because the environmental impact on AQMAs outweighed the benefits of the project.

22.9.    Local resident:  Is there a road issue or could there be other ways to deal with the future challenges?
31 different options were considered in terms of meeting all the objectives, and the 3 options that addressed the objectives were all for a new road.  Costs have been based on 2027 estimates and bids for funding would need to be submitted, plus a local funding element of 15% of the costs, which could be generated through a roof tax from new developments.  It would be easier to obtain funding for infrastructure than for wider environmental/sustainability improvements.  SCC have been pushing for rail improvements and Ipswich Buses have also been looking at what could be done to improve sustainable transport.

22.10.Local resident: This project is in the early stages; when would people next have a chance to give their views?
The paper would be presented to the Public Sector Leaders Board in October 2019, but people could have a say on the proposals now as part of this consultation; either online or via a paper copy of the consultation questionnaire.

22.11.Local resident: When would the road get built?
Consideration of the SOBC and proposals for future growth would identify a preferred option; further development of the business case, applications for funding and the detailed submission for planning consent would all need to be done, and providing that all of these steps progressed without issue, the earliest the road could be delivered would be in 2027.

22.12.Councillor T Lockington: Has consideration been given to providing infrastructure alongside mitigation?  It would be helpful to see how this could be integrated with other mitigation strategies rather than just providing a new road.  Do SCC still support Park and Ride?
There would be integration of the road with ‘business as usual’, and opportunities from future infrastructure.  SCC does support Park and Ride; the closure of Bury Road was a complex matter.  There needs to be a review of car park pricing in town centres in order for Park and Ride to work.  Chelmsford has high car parking prices and a successful Park and Ride, whereas Colchester, who have similar car parking prices to Ipswich, did not see a good take up of its Park and Ride service.

22.13.Councillor Kreidewolf: Does this project conflict with the Highways England plans to make improvements to 5 junctions on the A14?
A funding bid was submitted by SCC and Suffolk Chamber of Commerce to improve the key junctions of the A14 between Seven Hills and Copdock, plus Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket. These improvements would provide additional capacity at these junctions.  The Ipswich Northern Route project would also seek to improve road capacity, but would still require the proposed A14 junction improvement works to go ahead.