I was very pleased that planning permission was granted for a new multi-storey car park on Portman Road last week.
However, there seem to be quite a few misconceptions about this car park which I would like to take the opportunity to dispel.
The overall aim of the project is not to increase the amount of car parking in the town centre. It is to provide the same number of parking spaces but with a much more efficient use of land. A multi-storey car park will enable the same number of cars to be parked in a much smaller area.
The land freed up by building the car park can then be used to construct new business premises or homes. This will bring new jobs to Ipswich and increase the number of people in the town centre, supporting existing retailers, pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities.
The new buildings will also supply an income to the council, through rents and business rates, which will help keep existing services going in the future.
Once development of the area is complete the intention is that there will be the same number of car parking spaces as there are now, in fact slightly fewer as we will lose a couple for the new Kevin Beattie statue.
Hopefully this should allay the fears of those concerned that the new car park will generate lots more traffic and add to congestion and air pollution.
The number of cars will be the same but, because the new car park will include a significant number of electric vehicle charging points – 149 initially with wiring for a further 149 as demand increases – there will actually be a reduction in air pollution and carbon emissions from cars using the area.
One final point is that gaining planning permission for the car park does not commit the Council to building it. We will take into account current car park usage, potential development opportunities and any outside funding available before making the final decision to go ahead.
In summary, the new car park won’t increase congestion but it will enable us to improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions, increase jobs, support town centre businesses and bring more income to the Council.