Planning applications for John Lewis and Waitrose on the Crane's site, Nacton Road
Every Society welcomes the arrival of Britain's most successful retailer with its quality food, unbeatable value for money, unsurpassed service and excellent employee record for its partners. However, the Society believes that the Committee should consider the points we make very carefully and then refuse the application on this site. Our reasons are as follows:
Manufacturing Zone. Change of use of this site means the end of large scale manufacturing in the Borough. This may be pragmatic but we shall never be able to offer such a facility again. The new job opportunities the developers advertise will be at the upper end of their optimism. Research shows, and Mary Portas confirms, these are often displacement jobs.
Town Centre. The development of a major attractive retail draw this distance from the town centre will take shoppers who are in a higher socio-economic bracket away and thus discourage other retailers and developers from coming to the town centre. The first nail in the coffin was the granting of Tesco's consent and this would be the second. And we contend there are at least two large sites undeveloped and zoned for retail. We believe this will be disastrous for the quality of the town centre shopping for years to come.
The Portas Report has made two important recommendations which, assuming they are brought into force, are relevant to this application. Number 14 would "make explicit a presumption in favour of Town Centre development in the wording of the National Planning Policy Framework." Number 15 would "introduce Secretary of State exceptional sign off' for all new out-of-town developments and require all large developments to have an "affordable shops' quota." These two sections which are likely to be advised as relevant in the near future would make refusal more sensible.
The traffic generated by successive developments in north east Ipswich will produce stagnation, not just of the local roads but also of the A14 at the Nacton Road junction (junction 57). 4,100 cars a day are set to visit the site. Half will come from Ipswich and the other half from Saxmundham in the north to Witham in the south, the Essex Coast, Bury and Diss, all driving along the A14. The Highways Agency feels there is no reason to alter junction 57 despite there actually being a tailback on the eastbound carriageway on Google Maps. A third lane, it is agreed, will be inserted at the Warren Heath roundabout and that is the sum of improvements, they state, that is needed in a road layout that we have on good authority is at "capacity most of the day."
At the very least, the Committee should insist on conditions which provide for funding of improvements in the future. This area is one of the Borough's main revenue earning business parks and incidentally houses the main Fire and Rescue station and close by Ipswich Hospital and ambulance station and we really cannot allow it to become gridlocked.
We believe, therefore, that the interests of the majority of the Borough would be best served by refusal of this application and a review of siting in a town centre location.