RTPI President visited members in the East of England this week on a tour that took in Felixstowe, Ipswich, Saffron Walden and Wimbish. She saw how our members are making a real difference by helping to create better places for people to live as well as creating and sustaining employment.
Top marks for Felixstowe
Janet (pictured right, below with RTPI members) visited Felixstowe town and the port and was very impressed by the way in which both are planning for the future. She told the local media:
“I was able to to see for myself the imaginative planning that is transforming major areas of the town and the port. I was very impressed with the enormous work undertaken by the planning department and by the scope of the ambition of the council. Felixstowe is an impressive example of a town which has a determined approach to regeneration and to improvements to the city centre and other areas. There is a great deal of hard work taking place to conserve important buildings and regenerate the town centre with, for example, shared road spaces which have been successful in reducing the numbers of cars.”
Janet was struck by the huge scale of the operation at England's largest container port, which receives 4 million containers per annum and some of the largest ships in the world (400 metres long!).
Great work in Ipswich
Janet was shown around Ipswich and the very successful regeneration of the Ipswich Docks. In particular, this project was driven by the arrival of the University Campus Suffolk, a new university located in new buildings which included new halls of residence for students on the dockside. Alongside these, historic buildings have been restored with remarkable success, inviting many visitors to the walkways alongside the yachts in the popular marina.
Ipswich Borough Council faces some familiar problems – with vacant sites and a housing problem. Its town centre is historic, contains some very beautiful listed buildings in its main streets and market square, and there are issues around the re-use of vacant town centre sites. As a result, the council is designing an urban extension for up to 3500 houses, which will include several new primary schools and a secondary school, as well as access to a railway station, bike paths and links to the town centre. The design will take sustainable principles into account and considerable work has been carried out, led by the active planning department.
Saffron Walden meet and greet
A highlight on each of her visits is the chance for Janet to meet RTPI members, which she was also able to do at Uttlesford DC offices over a light lunch. Janet spoke about some of the RTPI's key priorities and answered questions about the work of the Institute. Later she was briefed on the Great Dunmow Neighbourhood Plan
Outstanding Wimbish scheme should be a national housing model
Janet praised the innovative standards of the Passivhaus development in Wimbish, near Saffron Walden, during a visit to the scheme.
“We need more of our housing, including affordable housing, built to low carbon standards. Wimbish is an exciting and ground breaking project that has successfully brought together organisations with a range of skills and interests in sustainable development. It a model which could be used across the country to create excellent environmentally friendly homes.
“I was delighted to meet a resident of the completed housing scheme who very generously showed me around her lovely home. I was very impressed with the very small energy bills, and the high standard of building in what is a very attractive environment.”