Preferred Options Core Strategy and Policies Development Plan Document (DPD) Review
CHAPTER 6: Vision and Objectives
6.2 It is vital that the Ipswich Local Plan is led by a vision and a series of objectives that link appropriately to wider aims for the Borough and beyond.
6.3 It is also important that the vision and objectives are specific to Ipswich and are not entirely bland statements that would be suitable for any urban area in the country.
6.4 The Core Strategy is central to this process and should provide a strategic vision and strategic objectives that the rest of this document and others within the Local Plan should be in conformity with. Part D sets some targets for measuring the success of the suggested objectives.
6.5 The rest of this chapter is divided into three sections: the Vision, the Objectives and the Spatial Strategy.
6.6 With regard to the Objectives there is a clear inter-relationship between them and many of the policies in Chapter 8 of this document. This inter-relationship is explained where appropriate within Chapter 8.
6.7 Our Vision is to improve the quality of life, health and well-being for all who live in, work in, learn in, play in and visit Ipswich, by supporting growth and ensuring that development happens in a sustainable manner so that the amenities enjoyed by local people are not harmed and the town is enhanced.
By 2036, Ipswich town centre will embrace a greater mix of uses providing opportunities for shopping, leisure and cultural activities, learning, working and living. The town centre, Waterfront and Portman Quarter will provide a range and choice of higher density homes to meet needs including on a redeveloped Island Site, whilst recognising that not everyone wishes to live in a flat. The Princes Street corridor will be a busy office quarter providing modern, flexible Grade A floorspace. Movement around the town centre will be easiest by foot and cycle, using an integrated network of safe, convenient and attractive routes, supported by a high-quality public transport network. The town centre will be inclusive, addressing the needs of the less mobile within a high quality public realm.
Outside central Ipswich, thriving district and local centres will provide local shopping, leisure and services close to people's homes and be at the hub of strong and cohesive communities. Three new neighbourhoods will be completed at Ipswich Garden Suburb with housing delivered alongside a country park and highway, water, energy, education, green and health infrastructure.
By 2036, a range of new homes will be provided across the Borough and within the Housing Market Area to meet needs. The Ipswich economy will have grown hand in hand with the skills and knowledge of the local workforce, providing opportunities for all as part of a strong and prosperous Ipswich Functional Economic Area supported by a successful university. Growth will be supported by modern, fit for purpose infrastructure, and Ipswich will be well connected and offer a range of sustainable transport modes to all its users.
The distinctive network of beautiful parks and open spaces, green infrastructure and open water will be protected and enhanced, to support their use by people and wildlife. The town's tree canopy will be extended and opportunities taken to enhance biodiversity and adapt to climate change. The town's built and natural heritage will be conserved and enhanced and growth will respect the character and distinctiveness of neighbourhoods within Ipswich.
The Ipswich of 2036 will have grown and changed in ways that respect the past and look to the future; it will be a county town that everyone in Suffolk will feel proud of.
6.8 The following twelve strategic objectives will guide the Local Plan
- High standards of design will be required in new development. Development must be sustainable, environmentally friendly and resilient to the effects of climate change. Standards of acceptability will be raised progressively from 2006 (Building Regulations) levels for all developments in the town in terms of design and environmental performance.
- Every development should contribute to the aim of reducing Ipswich's carbon emissions below 2004 levels.
- At least: (a) 8,622 new dwellings shall be provided to meet the needs of Ipswich within the Ipswich Housing Market Area between 2018 and 2036 in a manner that addresses identified local housing needs and provides a decent home for everyone, with 31% at the Ipswich Garden Suburb and 15% in the remainder of the Borough being affordable homes; and (b) approximately 15,580 additional jobs shall be provided in Ipswich to support growth in the Ipswich Strategic Planning Area between 2018 and 2036
- The development of the Borough should be focused primarily within the central Ipswich 'IP-One' area, Ipswich Garden Suburb and within and adjacent to identified district centres (these areas are identified on the key diagram).
- Opportunities shall be provided to improve strategic facilities in Ipswich by:
- Significantly enhancing the town centre in terms of the range and quality of the shops, the cultural and leisure offer and the public realm;
- Extending the strategic greenspace, ecological network and canopy cover; and
- Continuing to support the development of the University of Suffolk and Suffolk New College.
- To improve accessibility to and the convenience of all forms of transport, and achieve significant modal shift from the car to more sustainable modes. This will: (a) promote choice and better health; (b) facilitate sustainable growth, development and regeneration; (c) improve integration, accessibility and connectivity; and (d) promote green infrastructure as alternative 'green' non-vehicular access around the town and urban greening of existing routes. Specifically:
- Significant improvements should take place to the accessibility to and between the three key nodes of: the railway station (including the wider Portman Quarter environment), the Waterfront (and particularly the Education Quarter) and the Central Shopping Area;
- Additional east-west highway capacity could be provided within the plan period in the Ipswich area to meet the needs of the wider population and to provide the potential to reallocate some central road space;
- Comprehensive, integrated cycle routes should be provided; and
- Ipswich Borough Council aspires to an enhanced public transport system.
- Enhanced flood protection including a tidal surge barrier to be in place to protect the town's existing and expanding communities from the threat of tidal flooding.
- To protect and enhance high quality, accessible strategic and local open spaces rich in biodiversity and geodiversity for people to visit and use, and conserve and enhance the historic environment and landscape character of Ipswich, including historic buildings, archaeology and townscape.
- To retain and provide high quality schools, health facilities, sports and cultural facilities and other key elements of community infrastructure in locations accessible by sustainable means and in time to meet the demands put on such services from the town's growth and ageing population.
- To tackle deprivation and inequalities across the town.
- To improve air quality and create a safer, greener, more cohesive town.
- To work with other local authorities in the Ipswich Strategic Planning Area and with community partners to ensure a co-ordinated approach to planning and development.
6.9 Spatial Strategy - How will the vision and objectives be achieved?
6.10 The spatial approach to delivering sustainable growth in Ipswich is to pursue a strategy of urban renaissance in central Ipswich (policy CS2). It continues the approach set out in the 1997 Ipswich Local Plan that has seen a transformation of the Ipswich Waterfront, and the beginnings of change to a more vibrant mixed use area in the Portman Quarter (formerly Ipswich Village). It offers the most sustainable way to accommodate growth in Ipswich, because:
- it makes the best use of previously developed land;
- it places new residents in close proximity to jobs, shops, leisure and cultural facilities and public transport nodes, to support sustainable lifestyles;
- it regenerates some of the more run down areas that surround the historic core;
- it enhances the vitality and vibrancy of the central area, reinforcing its role as a county town and regional centre; and
- it addresses social needs by tackling issues of social and economic deprivation.
6.11 The strategy also reflects Ipswich's status as a regional priority area for regeneration, to help address issues of social and economic deprivation and in places a poor quality physical environment and social infrastructure.
6.12 Focusing development into central Ipswich will contribute to tackling issues of deprivation and improving social inclusion, for example through locating jobs and services where they will be most accessible. In pursuing the strategy, the Council will work with community partnerships to ensure that the benefits of growth reach deprived neighbourhoods. There are already in existence examples of such joint working, through initiatives such as the Town and Bridge Project (which has now become part of ActivLives).
6.13 Much of the central area of Ipswich alongside the river is classified by the Environment Agency as Flood Risk Zones 2 and 3. National policy (National Planning Policy Framework) requires a sequential approach to the location of development such that Flood Zones 2 and 3 are avoided if there are viable alternatives. In exceptional circumstances 'more vulnerable' development, such as housing or education development in Flood Zones: 2 and 3 may be possible if 'within the site, the most vulnerable development is located in areas of lowest flood risk unless there are overriding reasons to prefer a different location; and development is appropriately flood resilient and resistant, including safe access and escape routes where required, and that any residual risk can be safely managed, including by emergency planning; and it gives priority to the use of sustainable drainage systems' (the Exception Test).
6.14 Ipswich is constrained by its tightly drawn borough boundary. The Borough has already accommodated significant post-war growth such that there are few opportunities for further expansion at the periphery. Thus, as well as the need for urban regeneration in central Ipswich, there is no realistic alternative to locating some development in Flood Zone 3.
6.15 There is in place an agreed Ipswich Flood Defence Management Strategy and work began in December 2008 to replace and raise the height of the floodgates in the Wet Dock lock. There is reasonable certainty that the Strategy will be implemented in full (it has DEFRA agreement) and it is anticipated that this will be achieved by 2019 (policy CS18).
6.16 The flood defence strategy will reduce flood risk significantly. However the residual risks resulting from the possibility of overtopping, breach or failure of gates or walls need to be considered. All development needs to be safe and when 'more vulnerable' developments need to be sited in Flood Zone 3a, they should pass the sequential and exception tests described in the NPPF. The Council's Level 2 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) provides guidance on residual flood risk both for the situation before and after completion of the flood barrier. The SFRA also suggests a framework for safe development relevant to either case. This safety framework is detailed in the Council's Development and Flood Risk SPD (September 2013) and includes requirements for:
- Structural safety of buildings;
- Emergency plans for actions by emergency responders;
- Emergency plans for evacuation and flood warning arrangements for users of buildings;
- Temporary refuges;
- Safe emergency access for Fire & Rescue Service;
- Safe access/escape routes for building users;
- Raised floor levels; and
- Flood resilience measures.
6.17 Thus, a significant number of Ipswich's new homes will be provided within central Ipswich through sites that will be identified in the Site Allocations and Policies (incorporating IP-One Area Action Plan) Development Plan Document. As a secondary source of sites, land in the remainder of the urban area will also be identified, where possible located so as to provide ready accessibility for residents to existing local or district centres. Alongside the focus on the central area, the delivery of a significant number of homes through a sustainable urban extension on greenfield land at the Ipswich Garden Suburb will also occur during the plan period (see policy CS10). A broad location for future development after 2031 is also identified in north-east Ipswich at the northern end of Humber Doucy Lane and Tuddenham Road.
6.18 Ipswich is a regional town centre. Through the Local Plan, the Council will:
- Amend the Central Shopping Area boundary to provide for improved retail offer (sites for new retail development are allocated through the Site Allocations and Policies (incorporating IP-One Area Action Plan) Development Plan Document);
- Define the town centre boundary and identify within it employment areas and sites for offices, hotels, and commercial leisure uses (again, sites will be identified in the Site Allocations and Policies (incorporating IP-One Area Action Plan) Development Plan Document);
- Support the growth of the University of Suffolk and Suffolk New College, e.g. by protecting the Education Quarter land and buildings for linked uses; and
- Support cultural and leisure facilities in the centre to attract visitors into the centre.
6.19 In July 2015 a non-statutory document entitled 'The Vision for Ipswich: East Anglia's Waterfront Town' was published by partners –the University of Suffolk, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Central, Ipswich Borough Council, Ben Gummer MP and the Ipswich Chamber of Commerce. This Vision brings together the aspirations of the partners on a range of issues and identifies a series of actions for the next few years. Some of these are relevant to the Local Plan and others are not, because they relate to matters beyond the remit of the planning system (e.g. starting works on the I-Am Project around the Museum on High Street). The two documents (the statutory 'Local Plan' and the 'Vision for Ipswich') are considered to complement each other in a helpful way.
6.20 Ipswich is a key economic driver in the wider sub-region. Whilst the town centre is the hub of office-based activity, retail and leisure activity, and offers the opportunity for clusters to develop around the University Campus, and Ipswich Port is a focus for storage and distribution linked to marine trade, land is needed across the Borough to enable the provision of a range of new jobs across employment growth sectors. The Core Strategy sets out an approach to protecting employment sites and employment areas across the town to meet a variety of needs. Employment land allocations themselves will be made through the site-specific development plan document (see Core Strategy policies CS13 and DM32, and Site Allocations policy SP5).
6.21 The Core Strategy will also provide an opportunity to attract national and regional voluntary sector organisations to form a base in Ipswich, and promote the growth of social enterprise incubator units and voluntary sector activity.
6.22 Although the town centre is the focus for regeneration,
many of the town's existing residents live in the suburbs.
The town centre improvements will benefit those who use the
centre, and efforts to encourage modal shift will support
accessibility around the Borough by public transport, cycling
and walking. In suburban neighbourhoods benefits from growth
could include additional jobs provided in the established
employment areas, the provision of additional community
facilities and urban greening.