Upper Orwell Crossings & Impact on Holywells Park
UPPER ORWELL CROSSING PLANS DROPPED
Plans for the Upper Orwell Crossing were dropped in January 2019 due to escalating costs – in 2015 costs were estimated at £96.6m but by 2018 these had risen to £139.8m.
Unfortunately £8m had already been spent with nothing to show for it – this waste of money continues to be a cause for concern as highlighted by an article in the Ipswich Star (12 June 2019) – Consultant firm paid £4 million for axed Upper Orwell Crossings work
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Impact on Holywells Park
The main threat to Holywells Park will be from the large increase in traffic notably along Cliff Lane. There are only three routes that vehicles can use going to/from the bridge on the East side of Ipswich:
1. North/South along Holywells Road
2. North/South along Landseer Road
3. East/West along Cliff Lane
The bridge is an East/West crossing so a large proportion of traffic is likely to use Cliff Lane. At a presentation to FoHP by Suzanne Buck (1), it was suggested that there could an eye-watering 750+ cars per hour using Cliff Lane at peak time.
Unlike Holywells & Landseer Roads, Cliff Lane is currently a quiet residential road running between Holywells Park and the Rivers estate/Landseer Park. For a number of reasons the suitability of Cliff Lane to take a substantial increase in vehicles has to be re-thought (2). Cliff Lane (as the name implies!) is both steep and a ‘lane’ with lorries currently restricted because of this. The high water table and presence of springs make the road highly suspectible to potholes. There is also a large primary school, two homes/shelters for elderly people, a row of busy shops and of course the main entrance to Holywells Park itself.
Our concerns about the bridge and the impact on the park include the following:
1. Wild life corridor
Holywells Park and Landseer Park are linked by a narrow ‘green’ corridor midway up the main hill section of Cliff Lane. In fact, this indirectly links wildlife within Holywells Park to Piper’s Vale, Orwell Country Park and beyond.
Wildlife needs to cross Cliff Lane. In 2010 there was a toad tunnel constructed under Cliff Lane to help toads access their breeding grounds in the two parks. It was constructed on the advice of Frog Life, the nationally registered frogs and toads charity, because in previous years volunteers had to ferry toads across in buckets! The £12,500 cost of these life saving tunnels was financed by FoHP, Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council (3)
As well as toads and frogs other wildlife in the area include: hedgehogs, stag beetle, slow-worms, foxes, squirrels, deer, field mice. A large increase in traffic without calming measures will make Cliff Lane a wildlife graveyard. Holywells Park must not become a species isolated ‘island’ – linking habitats is reason for having the Ipswich Wildlife Network (PDF). (see links below for local and national guidelines on wildlife corridors & Ipswich as a Hedgehog hotspot) (4)
2. Air pollution
Bees & butterflies are highly susceptible to air pollution which is already high in the area. There are a number of beehives in the orchard near Cliff Lane (managed by FoHP volunteers) which produces honey sold locally. Increased car numbers could be a tipping point for some wildlife and bee and insect numbers will inevitably decline as will pollination of wildflowers.
Plants are threatened by increased car pollution – there is evidence that so called ‘thuggish’ plants thrive on nitrogen from fumes – these are overpowering more delicate species (5) which groups like FoHP and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust have been nurturing.
The park has remnants of ancient woodland evidenced by indicator species such as native bluebells, wild garlic, wood anemone and wood sorrel – ancient woodland is protected by law. (6)
3. Noise and light pollution
The park is already bordered by busy roads to the North and West so the tranquility of the southern section of the park is now under threat. The very nature of a raised bridge will facilitate sound and light travelling significant distances.
This may seem like a trivial matter but the 4 species of bat (7) that live in the park rely on echo location to catch prey and are distracted by flashing lights. This is especially the case in the pond area that borders Holywells Road. All bat species and their roosts are legally protected, by both domestic and international law (8).
4. Parking and the Park
There is no public car park and visitors are encouraged to use public transport or public parking at Athena Hall off Duke Street. The Athena Hall parking is still some distance from the park and requires crossing a busy road which is hazardous for parents with prams, families or even dog walkers. Consequently many people park their cars on Cliff Lane or in the nearby ‘Rivers’ estate. Many residents have no alternatives to parking on Cliff Lane and any parking restrictions (such a double yellow lines) would exacerbate the situation and lead to increased damage to pavements in the Rivers (9).
Parking restrictions on Cliff Lane are completely impractical!
5. National Cycle Route Network
The National Cycle Network (10) is a network of safe, traffic-free paths and quiet on-road cycling and walking routes. Route 51 passes through Holywells Park and across Cliff Lane (at the main park entrance) on it’s route to Felixstowe (Cliff Lane is also used as an alternative safe route if the park is closed). The aim of the National Cycle Network is to provide a “high-quality standard for routes” and give users of the Network a “uniform, high quality, predictable and safe experience” either physically segregated from traffic or “on roads that have low traffic flows and speeds which make them safe for cycling”.
If Cliff Lane is expected to accommodate 1000 cars per hour (17 cars per minute!) these criteria will no longer be met and the cyclists crossing point will be unsafe. One of the impressive features of the the Crossing proposals are the 2 non vehicle bridges for pedestrian and cyclists, so it seems a real contradiction to thwart the aims of the National Cycle Network along Route 51.
6. Historic Buildings
Holywells Park is on the English Heritage register of historic parks and gardens of special historic interest and is a designated a Conservation Area. The Stable Block and conservatory are both listed buildings. The Margaret Catchpole Pub (by the park entrance) is a grade II listed building. We note from experience that even minor changes in vicinity of the entrance (eg to the park gate) have required lengthy and detailed planning processes due to the location of these Historic Buildings. (11)
7. Pollution & Noise Issues During Constructing
The ponds/stream near Holywells Road are very close to the proposed roundabout so there could easily be pollution into these from the construction site. Care will also need to be taken to reduce construction noise disturbing people and wildlife.
Protecting the Park
FoHP are firmly committed to protecting the park from any threats. We believe that most people in Ipswich will want to see this beautiful and fragile wildlife haven preserved for all future generations to enjoy.
We will keep our soclal media and website pages updated about any developments. You can also download and print our poster which you can use to help us promote our concerns:
Download PDF poster here
Note: when you print please ensure that you ‘fit to 1 page’
If you support our objectives and concerns please contact the Upper Orwell Crossings team to ensure your voice is heard:
Read the latest news – here
- 20/3/2018, Presentation to FoHP by Suzanne Buck (Suzanne Buck, Project Manager for The Upper Orwell Crossings)
- Maps from a presentation by local Resident Matthew Thomas on 27/4/2018 at St Lukes Churh Hall. If official traffic flow maps become available we will replace this source – Traffic Flow Maps (PDF)
- Ipwsich Star – http://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/toads-get-help-on-the-road-1-136459 . Financial contributions were as follows: FoHP – £2500 (£500 from Suffolk County Council and £2,000 from Matthew Homes), Ipswich Borough Council – £10,000
- https://www.ipswich.gov.uk/sites/default/files/ipswich_wildlife_network.pdf .
List of UK Wildlife legislation. http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/how-you-can-help/reporting-wildlife-crime/uk-wildlife-legislation
“Ipswich hailed as a hedgehog hotspot as species struggle in rural areas” –
Ipswich is a hotspot for stag beetle, “they’re a real icon for the town!” (Ipswich Wildlife Network)
- Wildflowers being ‘silently ravaged’ by ‘THUGGISH’ plants and pollution
- Common and Soprano Pipistrelles, Noctules & Brown Long Eared bats
- Parking damage to pavement on Wroxham Road (April 2018) due to the shortage of parking on Cliff Lane for the shops, school and park – this would be made significantly worse throughout the residential Rivers Estate if there were double yellow lines imposed on Cliff Lane