The leadership of the Conservative administration has changed from Colin Noble to Matthew Hicks. We may see a less nakedly combative approach, but it would be naive to expect a major change in direction. We could hope that some of the persistent problems, such as education performance, will be resolved or that more notice is taken of the wishes of a wider selection of the electorate.
Integrated Transport Strategy
A transport strategy for Norfolk and Suffolk has been produced by the Local Enterprise Partnership. It gives a view of likely developments to the 2040’s for transport, public and private and communication infrastructure. It features the need to reduce congestion on the A14 and for an Ipswich northern bypass but also for improved public transport.
It was recently reported that Suffolk County Council had repaired 6500 potholes since the start of the year. However, there are still a number of issues with the way Highways carry out their repairs, and this headline figure does not paint an accurate picture.
The Highways team are currently struggling to keep up and are resorting to temporary repairs which are quicker to complete. They have recently introduced a more expensive temporary repair material that lasts longer. However, it damages the surrounding road material and will need to be replaced within about 18 months. Does this give value for money?
Suffolk Highways are also “blitzing” whole areas of the road at once, rather than making multiple trips to the same area. However, they will only repair potholes that meet their intervention criteria as defined in the Suffolk Highway Maintenance Operational Plan.
National Lottery funding for “The Hold”
The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded an additional £10.3m towards “The Hold” project, a heritage centre to be built on the Ipswich Waterfront. Building work will begin this spring, with The Hold scheduled to open by the end of 2019.
The total cost of the project is expected to be £20m. Suffolk County Council has pledged £5m for the building, and the University of Suffolk £1m. The Heritage Lottery Fund had previously awarded £538,000, bringing their total to £10.8m. The Wolfson Foundation and the charity “Suffolk Archives Foundation” will also contribute.
As well as providing public facilities and teaching spaces for the University of Suffolk, The Hold is expected to house the majority of Suffolk’s archival collections. This has been criticised by residents of Lowestoft and the surrounding area, who face losing their local Records Office.
There is currently no suggestion that this project will affect the Bury St Edmunds Records Office.
Chilton Woods development moves forward
The Cabinet has agreed to proceed with the Chilton Woods development near Sudbury as an “upfront land sale”, meaning land will be sold to developers, either in lots or as a whole, who will then work on the development over a 10 year period.
The development is expected to deliver 1150 homes, 25% “affordable” and supporting infrastructure, including highways improvements and a new primary school.
Suffolk Coasts & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The Cabinet welcomed proposals by Natural England to extend the boundaries of the Suffolk Coasts & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Within an AONB and there is no restriction on how land is farmed and there is no presumption against development.
The Planning Referrals Committee decided it was “minded to refuse” the application for 300 houses on Barham Church Lane. There were issues that it found concerning including the highways proposals, where the closure of Barham Church Lane appeared far less than certain, the impact on the church and on wildlife.
Changes have been proposed to address the concerns, including a reduction in the number of houses, certainty about the spine road and the possibility that the layout will be substantially as the outline.
The modified application will return.
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