A NEW bridge across Lake Lothing forms part of multi-million pound plans to transform nearly 150 acres of waterfront land in south Lowestoft, The Journal can reveal today.

A new primary school, up to 1,400 homes, a water taxi service and new restaurants and bars are also included in the ambitious proposals, drawn up by Waveney District Council to breathe new life into the area.

But drivers hoping the bridge will bring immediate relief to Lowestoft's long-standing traffic problems are likely to be disappointed. Like the one planned for the town centre, it will cater for cyclists and pedestrians but not for vehicles – although another option could see a separate bridge built to provide a new railway crossing.

Described by council chiefs as a 'significant project' in the future development of Lowestoft, the plans for the so-called Sustainable Urban Neighbourhood (SUN) and Kirkley Waterfront are being unveiled today at the start of a month-long consultation that will allow local people to have their say on the scheme.

In its introduction, the consultation document says the proposals focus on 'predominantly under-utilised or unoccupied brownfield land' and offer 'an unrivalled waterfront opportunity to regenerate the south-side of Lake Lothing as a new employment area and residential community and to open up access to the waterfront for the public.'

The plans include: 1,380 homes to meet local housing needs; a pedestrian/cycle bridge over Lake Lothing at Brooke Peninsula; open space; 29.6 acres of employment land; a new primary school; leisure facilities such as restaurants and bars; a network of playing fields, small parks, play areas, tree-planting and improved public access to an existing county wildlife site; a network of walkways and cycleways; small-scale retail facilities and business premises; marina facilities and moorings for historic vessels; a hotel and a new road providing access to the site.

With the plans earmarked to 'take place over the next 15 years', the proposals have a long way to go before becoming a reality – including a series of planning hurdles and agreements over funding.

However, council leader Colin Law said he was excited by the proposals.

He told The Journal: 'The proposed development outlined here is a significant project for Lowestoft. These plans are hugely exciting and seeing them on paper begins to bring the reality a little closer. We would now like to ask people with a genuine interest in the future of Lowestoft to let us know what they think of the brief and this very exciting vision for the area.'

Last month, an Area Action Plan (AAP) for the Lake Lothing and Outer Harbour area was formally adopted by Waveney District Council and the new proposals seek to provide a more detailed brief about the type of development that can be expected within almost 150 acres (59.8 hectares) of the waterfront land.

Plans to provide pedestrian and cycle access to the area could lead to another crossing being built over Lake Lothing. However, it will not be the long-awaited third crossing for vehicles, which many people and business leaders say is essential if Lowestoft is to overcome the congestion which plagues the town centre.

The development brief says the crossing would cost �4.8m to �8m and adds: 'A new pedestrian/cycle bridge across Lake Lothing at Brooke Peninsula will improve access to local facilities and benefit people living in both north and south Lowestoft... which will benefit the entire town and should further reduce the need to travel by car.'

Yesterday, a Waveney council spokesman confirmed that the proposed pedestrian/cycle bridge – which is separate to the one planned in the town centre under plans drawn up by Suffolk County Council – would link the development site to the Harbour Road area of Oulton Broad and Normanston Park. However, another option within the planning brief suggests that a new rail crossing could be built alongside it for about �930,000.

The planning brief adds: 'The provision of water taxis on Lake Lothing should be facilitated by the development through the provision of mooring space on the waterfront in the Brooke Peninsula area.

'The primary school will require a two hectare (almost five acres) site. The cost of building a two-form entry primary school, including pre-school provision, in a flood zone is estimated to be �9.5m.'

• Anyone wishing to take part in the consultation can read and comment on a first draft of the development brief at www.consult.waveney.gov.uk until 5pm on Friday, March 23. There will also be an opportunity to see the plans at an exhibition on Thursday, March 1 from 1pm to 7pm at Whitton Community Hall.

• What do you think? Send your views to Postbox, The Journal, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft, NR32 1NB or email max.bennett@archant.co.uk including your name and address.