Our planning policies are decided by the Executive Committee and carried out by a planning sub-committee. Some of our members act as Planning Monitors and take turns to examine the weekly planning applications and to make formal comments to the Borough Council (see Links) on behalf of the Society. Their work is co-ordinated by the sub-committee and overseen by our Planning Co-ordinator who will present important or contentious proposals to the Executive Committee. The representations made to the council are summarised in each Newsletter.
Recent Planning Matters
Cornhill. The Commissioning Group for the revision of the Cornhill received two thousand comments, the majority unsupportive of their proposals; it has realigned the brief to the architects. Their latest iteration will be put forward for a further consultation around the time you read this. We think that the changes may be acceptable to those who feel that physical changes are necessary to make the space more welcoming; they will remain unacceptable to those who feel public money should not be spent on improving anything more tangible than the surface.
Anglia Parkway Retail Park. The park has been largely empty for some time; its new owners (Trinistar Lux SA) have managed to fill many of the vacant units. From the west end, in the B&Q garden shop, will be Billy Beez trampoline centre with a family gym; next Go Outdoors then The Range will replace B&Q. Comet has a variation of conditions approved to sell ‘food’ up to 20% of sales area; would fresh and/or frozen be permitted? Tenant has not been announced but it will probably be Dunelm. Smyths Toys will open in June in an adjacent unit. There has been an application this week from CDS Superstores trading as The Range, (the company aims to provide ‘everything for lifestyle at affordable prices’) for increasing the right hand end of B&Q by 20% to make it able to stock their full 65,000 product range. A full sequential analysis of all the Borough's possible available sites makes only one possible choice. The town centre effect is estimated to be a 2.66% fall which is equivalent to £16.18m annually. Despite improved access to Suffolk Retail Park it is still considered inadequate. I think we can say that this marks the end of Carr Street and the Westgate Centre as retail areas.
Agricultural land, Whitton Lane, Old Norwch Road and Fisks Lane. A large, high, camouflaged distribution warehouse for Faithfull's floor coverings. A greenfield site zoned for employment with access only from Anglia Parkway North. Objections locally and from SPS*: loss of agricultural land; visual, light and noise pollution. The Society made no comment – the land is secluded and unused; vast warehouses don't produce much external noise and the trucks will come in from the Bury Road. Stringent conditions are to be applied addressing those points. We agree, however, with SPS that it is an extension of Ipswich into the countryside.
Old Archant Offices, Lower Brook Street. McCarthy and Stone development of 61 apartments,11 houses, communal facilities, landscaping and car parking. They are aesthetically and reasonably attractive. As is the norm, the developers will ensure car parking, security, communal and leisure facilities. We support it, except the 1.8 metre wall as boundary treatment. It is limited to the 55+ age group.
14 High Street, Ipswich. This small block of 1930s shops with offices above is in a prominent position overlooking Crown Street. In the Central Conservation area, it is not listed nor on the local list, it forms the modernist entrance to the greater importance of Westgate Street and Museum Street. It is therefore important to conserve the windows in a form that is nearly as original as possible whilst providing modern standards of insulation and low maintenance costs. It is now possible to do this as Crittall provide a conservation window replacement service.
The Ipswich Garden Suburb aka The Northern Fringe
At last the Highways Department of Suffolk County Council have woken to the traffic implications of the developments and to the inadequacy of the traffic surveys produced by the developers. Is the replacement of Westerfield Road roundabout by traffic lights all that's necessary? The plans have been called in and the developers asked to produce new proposals not only regarding transport plans but also for the drainage systems. We are concerned at the proposed public transport provision of only one bus route to the town; there are no proposals for traffic going east towards the hospital, Ransomes Europark or on to Felixstowe docks. Nor has there been any consideration of the effect of the increased traffic on air quality, particularly in the town centre where we are already over the NICE limits.
There were about 2000 replies to the Cornhill public consultation; we suspect 90% politely requesting different schemes (and a few unprintable). The proposers are now considering the next steps and we can only guess that they might draw up an alternative brief. An application for changing Grimwade’s store into a restaurant has been made but we understand that there are major difficulties with such a conversion. However, we are optimistic that a good use will be found for the site in due course.
Ipswich town centre is looking fitter than it has done for a long time; even Carr Street has had a boost with the occupation of the old QD store by B & M Stores. They might have moved in spontaneously but the continuous pressure, including the threat of legal enforcement, by the planning department pressurising them to open a town centre shop must have had an effect.
However, a recent national survey shows that Britain now has too many shops at too higher rents. Predictions by the Centre for Retail Research show store numbers falling by 22% with 316,000 job losses; 41% of town centres will lose 27,638 stores in the next five years. Meanwhile, online sales will have risen to 22% by the end of the decade. We tend to remain insular in Ipswich, thinking that we can prevent this major change in our way of life but it is happening all around us. Our leaders need to formulate a long term plan for what is going to come about in the near future, not for reintroducing the golden era of times past which anyway only existed in sepia-tinted rosy-hued memories. We need a plan that accepts that the town centre will have a greater focus on leisure and housing rather than retail.
It looks as though the Upper Orwell river crossings will be built. Currently, a competition for the design is under-way and engineers are on site drilling trial holes. The Society has considerable doubts on the business case and the traffic figures and we would like to see the detailed numbers.
St Clement’s Hospital (built to the design of W.R. Ribbans in 1870) is to be redeveloped; the original hospital buildings will be retained and internally remodelled to provide a total of 47 dwellings. This is a good scheme retaining most of the Victorian buildings which surveyors report are in good condition. Ipswich is unusual, then, in retaining their asylum buildings for a long term use. Most of the 150 mental hospitals in the UK have been demolished in their entirety and replaced by housing developments by one of the big private house-building companies. The southern half of the site is a different story; this was sold by the NHS and is now owned by Bovis Homes. Their plans for 227 dwellings (20% affordable), have been discussed at three meetings of the Urban Design Panel who have major reservations about the site layout and the design of the proposed houses. In November the Borough Planning Committee heard an impassioned speech from our Chairman and, despite the Officers’ recommendations deferred their decision for four weeks for Bovis to come up with changes in the design. Watch this space.
Edith Cook was the pioneering aviatrix whom the Society has memorialised with a Blue Plaque. The Suffolk Aviation Heritage Group applied to have their latest design of a memorial on the plinth at Back Hamlet. The Society said the statue must be ‘sufficiently well designed to convey a clear message from a distance’ and their proposal failed in this respect. The Planning Committee agreed and rejected the design as not complying with the relevant design policies. We remain highly supportive of the project.
There are fresh developments of 60 council houses on the Took's bakery site with access from the Old Norwich Road and, separately a large warehouse and distribution centre behind the old Bury Road B&Q building on a greenfield site. We will report more fully in the next issue.
Land north of the railway & east of Henley Road (Outline – Crest, Nicholson). 1,100 dwellings, local shopping centre, primary school, sports facilities, Country Park, open space, 2 vehicle accesses to Henley Road, two railway bridges, one for pedestrians and cyclists and one for vehicles. As the application is an outline, most matters are reserved so details are not available. Our concentration will be directed towards transport and services. The overall general plans seem good and the Country Park not just a token. Crest have a good architect and may have changed since Hayhill times. We shall see. However, it is important to realise that this is just the first of many applications to follow for the Ipswich Garden Suburb as we now know it which will transform the Northern Fringe of the town over the next 15 years. Upwards of ten thousand people will live there with schools, shops, medical centres, and leisure facilities including a country park. The implications for the Town are huge and have hardly been taken on board. But it is going to happen.
Land between John Lewis & the railway. Ten 2.0 Megawatt gas powered turbines to produce 20 Megawatts of electricity for the Grid and…
Old Cliff Quay power station site. 48 bio-diesel generators, requiring two tankers a week, producing 40 Megawatt stand-by electricity for the grid. Not on for more than two hours/day, or 200 hrs/year, all between 7.30am & 10.30pm. This is the new pattern of power production; the North Sea and solar panels are producing a lot but instant back-up is required for wind-less and sun-less times. We are looking at the deathknell of huge power stations, however fuelled. These generators will provide that relatively discreetly, if not very sustainably.
Donalds Volvo & Mazda garage. Twin glass and steel boxes at the roundabout in Futura Park. The west side of the old Cranes site, now Futura Park, will become a major go-to auto centre with Jaguar, Land-Rover, Audi and now Volvo with Mazda.
Civic Drive & St Matthews Street (former Iceland & Queen’s Head). Change of use to large global fusion food restaurant. The owners are Chatham-based. No details whatsoever of external appearance.
The Cornhill. We've sent our objections to the scheme in and spoken to the architects. We await the results of the 2000+ replies that were sent (they were predominantly strong objections) and a planning application. See also Chairman’s remarks
Orwell Crossings. A business plan and a proposal for three crossings of the Upper Orwell has been allocated £85 million in the Government's infrastructure list and Suffolk County Council's Cabinet has allocated £10 million to carry forward the planning stages. Details of the connecting roads, how high the bridge is from around the Cobbold Brewery to Bath Street and of the vehicle bridge across New Cut are all sparse . It seems curious to us that ABP have agreed to pedestrians and cyclists crossing the lock when we fought a Rights of Way case a few years ago at which their QC persuaded the Planning Inspector that it was not possible. It is unlikely it will have as beneficial an effect on traffic in the Star Lane gyratory as their advisers say. We shall see. Perhaps it needs Brussels funding.
St. Clement Church. Granted a change of use to an arts centre, it will be used for music, arts and performance within the Education Quarter. Only minimal changes are needed: a protetive, cheap hard - wearing floor to level out the parquet and stone, minimal new wiring an modular furnishings. Three toilets will be provided under the plane tree in the churchyard, next to the Fore Street car park. These are for a period up to five years. It is clear that Community Interest Company set up to restore and run the Arts Centre is going to be struggling for funds.
The developers, Cardinal Lofts (Mill) Limited have permission to develop Mill House, College Street opposite to St. Mary-At-The-Quay into an eight floor block of one - bedroom apartments. There will be little exterior alteration. Note that this is a variation to a Planning Permission granted as long ago as May 2005. As part of the conditions a through pedestrian way from Albion Wharf and College Street must be allowed between 8am and 10pm.
In February 2016 Ipswich Borough Council decided to redevelop the Crown Car Park to provide 400-500 spaces on two decks with an additional 100 spaces on the surface. The cost at just over £5 million would be met by "prudential borrowing". Underground was rejected as much too expensive. The Society surveys of car park pricing in the region (by Tim Leggett - see the last Newsletter, Issue 202) show that the cost of parking in an Ipswich Borough car park is amongst the lowest in the region, a story that has received substantial positive press coverage.
Nevertheless, it is true that some of our car parks around the waterfront are in a poor state and some way from the shopping areas. The one expensive car park is run by NCP at Tower Ramparts (£3 per hour). The new Crown car park multi-storey will address all three points. Meanwhile there is to be a survey of car parking resources, pricing and policies.
Whilst on this popular, contentious and boring subject, the new owners of the Civic Centre site have moved swiftly to open it as a 520 space car park (including the existing spiral car park). It will be swiftly followed by an Ipswich Borough Council car park on the old Police Station site with 53 spaces.
IBC will enlarge its South Street car park from 43 to 60 spaces with a cycle shelter and landscaping. Using the plots of three dwellings in Norwich Road will improve the derelict area but some of us feel it would have been better to have three units either as retail or dwellings; but there is huge pressure to get the casual parkers off Norwich Road.
The former Woolworth store did not sell at auction at the end of February (guide price £4,250,000, current annual rent £250,000 until; 2023). I can find no other substantial property for sale at aution or otherwise. Thus Archant press headlines from the past of exciting times in the 'Mint Quarter' (Cox Lane / Tacket Street car parks) have once again proved to be a false dawn.
The Cliff Brewery has been granted permission to proceed but, whilst the developers, Cliff Quay Developments and Pigeon remain active, there is some way to go in bring the scheme to fruition. The Directors all seem confident at the moment.
Permission has been granted for new buildings for tye Jaguar/Land Rover and Audi dealerships at Futura Park so you'll be able to do your weekly shop at Waitrose whilst your Discovery is being serviced. However, the surrounding traffic situation will get worse despite minor facelifts to the nearby roundabouts. Don't say we didn't tell you when we objected to the original development but the, then, Highways Agency said, "oh no it won't".
46 Anglesea Road, the former Spiritualist Church, in a large Suffolk brick Victorian house, reputedly visited by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, has been sold to a developer; he's nearly finished a smart, modern house in the garden with access to Paget Road and is dividing the original house into two semis after extensions. I remain doubtful about using the bottom of the gardens for infill; many people buying large houses will only buy if the original large garden remains. The design appears to be quite good but it is very difficult to judge the final aesthetic effect until it has settled in for a little while.
On St. Margaret's Green, the former Kwik-Fit exhaust centre was demolished and a planning application for a car wash refused, but won after an appeal. The Planning Inspector insisted on a wooden fence to screen the site. In late 2014, the owner made an outline application to build a 50 bedroom 3-4 storey care home which was also refused because it would not enhance the Cntral Conservation Area and would adversely affect the setting of the Grade I St. Margaret's Church. The Planning Inspector rejected the appeal on all grounds except highway which he felt could be dealt with by conditions. Furthermore, many are extremely concerned about the air quality particulartly NOx* at this site if such a tall building is erected producing a canyon effect.
The Society has set up a small working party to consider its postion on the Vision for Ipswich document which will report very soon.
[*nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide]