Velsheda (The Wine Rack). In 2006 consent for a 20-storey, 290 apartment block with a theatre was granted. Two additional storeys, plus changes to the roof profile have been approved since. The theatre was to be the Red Rose Chain home, but that's now in Gippeswyk Hall so why another convenience store? The developer is optimistic that the project will soon be completed.
‘The Hold’. Suffolk County Council is the statutory authority for the county archives, which currently have a central store in Gatacre Road and subsidiary offices in Bury and Lowestoft. Their strategy in these straitened times is to transfer the functions on Gatacre Road to a new building shared with the University on the University-owned car park in Fore Street opposite The Question Mark, and over the road from the Waterfront Building.
This new building is on a prime site and has vital cultural, heritage and educational functions. At a cost north of £15 million, the county and its capital are expecting a landmark building of an outstanding quality to stand comparison with the Willis building.
Appointment of the architects utilised a panel of outside assessors and an internal selection process. The chosen team, Pringle Richards Sharratt are an internationally recognised firm specialising in top museum projects. To our chagrin we saw a very ordinary design of a largely one storey building with a difficult-to-understand main entrance towards Fore Street and presenting a windowless facade to the car park. After considerable discussion and several meetings the Chairman wrote and spoke to both councils’ planning committees in conjunction with Suffolk RIBA*, criticising their proposals for the new build. As expected, it was passed nem con in January. Assuming funding from the University and the Heritage Lottery Fund remains in place we shall no doubt be disappointed in due course. What a missed opportunity.
Sugar Beet Factory, Sproughton. Ipswich Borough Council, who bought the site using their ability to borrow money at low rates, applied to Babergh District Council within whose boundaries it sits. It was one of Babergh’s major employment zones and they have previously refused permission for a largely residential application. This application is for an Enterprise Park which will attract central government funding. Amongst the proposals for the 130 acre site are a car showroom, a local retail centre, restaurant pubs, takeaways, and an 80-bed hotel. We await Babergh’s decision with interest.
Eden Rose Coppice Trust. This is a tiny charity supported by the Society which has reclaimed the Brickmakers Wood which lies between Alexandra Park and Suffolk New College with a small frontage on to Back Hamlet. Wasted (mind the pun) by drug abusers, dealers and their paraphernalia it has been reclaimed despite two arson attacks as an arboreal, biodiverse haven of rest particularly for those suffering from mental illness and terminal conditions. They have been supported by a £150,000 grant from Jewson’s to build a wooden, glass-panelled dodecahedron, 8.5 metres across and 3 metres high, with a sedum-covered, coned roof. Looks good.
Henley Road. A second attempt to build a house in the garden of number 57. This is a small, L-shaped cottage: simple and plainly boring. Being smaller, it takes rather less of the six flats’ amenity space and has a bit more for itself. We will be objecting to the loss of garden of a large house and to the unpleasant little design itself; also the general loss to the Conservation Area, particularly of the brick boundary wall to St Edmund’s Road
Thurleston Cricket Hall, Henley Road. This derelict site has reappeared as a 68-bed care home. Quite exciting plans for similar enterprises of decent architectural expectancy have been approved but never built. The site has now been sold on, with a ‘change of use’ permission, to a large-scale developer LNT who sells on developments to Ideal Care Homes. It is a routine, off-the-computer set of plans which were done better by Victorian local authorities when building municipal hospitals and asylums. Considering that it is opposite a listed 1811 mansion and a group of listed farm buildings makes it all the worse. We shall oppose its design, but not its use.
(*Royal Institute of British Architects)