Leader of Suffolk County Council, Matthew Hicks has outlined the timescale for the next steps in producing the Strategic Outline Business Case which will examine and ultimately clarify the feasibility of an Ipswich northern route.
Discussions about an Ipswich northern route have been well documented over the years. This announcement confirms the county council’s commitment to explore these formally with a public consultation which will inform the Strategic Outline Business Case to be put to government and published later in the year.
Tom Hunt, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Ipswich writes-
The clear timeline set out today by Suffolk County Council regarding the proposal for a northern bypass is to be welcomed. Clearly to deliver the bypass its critical that there is support from neighboring Suffolk authorities. That's why its so pleasing to see that every local authority leader in Suffolk is supportive of the scheme. This feels like a big step forward.
Since becoming the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Ipswich I've had a number meetings with the leadership at the county council to see how things are progressing and have also discussed it with the Secretary of State for Transport.
Personally I'm optimistic that things can progress. Recently the Government published details about a new pot of money that could be available for schemes such as the northern bypass, it's called the Large Local Majors (LLM) funding scheme. The Government states that this fund is for, "A small number of exceptionally large local highway authority transport schemes that could not be funded through normal routes." Surely the northern bypass is one such scheme?
I believe that if the County Council provides the Government with a strong business case in the autumn, as it intends, there is a good chance that we may finally get somewhere and that Ipswich could benefit from the new Large Local Majors funding. In the last budget the Government set aside a multi billion pound fund for schemes such as these.
Getting the funding for the northern bypass won't be straight forward. However Ipswich desperately needs it. We need to be ambitious for Ipswich and keep on pushing for the northern bypass. For years Suffolk and Ipswich have been short changes when it comes to significant investment into transport infrastructure. This needs to change.
The council released for the first time its timescale for moving the project forward.
The stage one study and report into possible highways options was completed in 2017
- The options assessment and development commissioned in May 2018 is currently being evaluated and prepared for shortlisting, prior to consultation.
- Public consultation on the route details, alignment options and junction options with the A14 and A12 - to begin in the Summer 2019
- Completion of the Strategic Outline Business Case to be shared with government, local MPs and the public - Autumn 2019.
The options assessment, that forms a key part of the Strategic Outline Business Case, is required to look at all other viable transport and traffic mitigation options. This will confirm whether the road alignments published in 2017 are indeed the best solution for the county. After carefully considering the assessment and developing these options further, the next stage is public consultation to begin in summer 2019.
The initial study, options assessment and the results of the public consultation inform the Strategic Outline Business Case, which will provide clarity on the feasibility of the project and will determine whether the project can proceed to the next stage. That will be shared publicly for consideration in the Autumn of 2019.
Councillor Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council, said:
“A project of this scale can only proceed by ensuring all partners are fully committed to each stage. Today, all councils have agreed the next steps for the creation of the business case.
“The public consultation will start in Summer 2019 to allow everyone to have their say and help assess the feasibility of taking this project forward to government and then onto the next stage.
“This realistic timeline clearly shows the level of commitment from across Suffolk to take this to the next step, with a public consultation to allow the strategic outline business case to inform the decision-making process.
“I’m committed to keeping residents and businesses informed as we progress through the next steps.”
Suffolk County Council has been working with District and Borough Councils to develop the project and will continue to do so in the future.