Recent Planning Matters
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.
Photo by Richie Wisbey.
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.
Velsheda (The Wine Rack). In 2005 consent for a 14 storey structure with 290 apartments and a theatre was granted. Several additional storeys, and changes to roof profile have been granted since, possibly adding up to 20 floors. Originally it was to be the home of the Red Rose Chain Theatre Company - now in Gippeswyk Hall - so why not another convenience store? The developer has now signed contracts for work to start in January 2018.
Photo by Glen Lleden.
Grimwades. Pret-à-Manger intend a restaurant here with seating for 56 on the ground floor and 84 for on the first floor. No extra extraction ducts will be necessary because their operation is akin to a tea shop. The ground floor on Westgate Street will become a Cards Direct shop.
The Ipswich Local Plan. As soon as the Ipswich Local Plan 2011-2031 was adopted in February, so it is reviewed for a new plan which is formulated every five years. Consultation closed on October 30 to which the Society contributed. Our main points concerned housing, transport, pollution and preservation of the Historic Environment with concern for archaeology.
The Town Hall. For health and safety reasons it is proposed to place six hand rails on the steps; we feel that four would be sufficient.
St Clement Church. The Ipswich Historic Churches Trust wishes to install electrically operated bell hammers to the existing six bells in the tower.
Sugar Beet Factory, Sproughton. This is an outline application by Ipswich Borough Council, who bought the site using their ability to borrow money at low rates, to Babergh District Council within whose boundaries it sits. It was one of Babergh's major employment zones and they have previously refused permission of a largely residential application. This 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 eighty bed hotel. I will report in this vital application to the economic health of Ipswich when more details are available.
Former Scrutton Bland offices - Museum Street/Elm Street. An excellent proposal to convert this 17th century house (Listed Grade II) on the corner of Museum and Elm Streets, formerly used by Scrutton, Bland as part of their offices, back to a house.
New Wolsey Theatre.
A few months after his death,the distinguished modern theatre architect, Roderick Ham's last work, is in trouble again. Built in 1979, it had to be re-roofed after 25 years; the roof was changed in 2004-5; it still leaks and this time Graham Lambert proposes its replacement with a steel outer, coloured grey, bonded to thick insulation. This should providea satisfactory waterproof, insulated and aesthetically satisfactory solution.
Travelodge Pooley's Yard. Travelodge have been granted permission to build an hotel opposite the railway station. It is functional rather than beautiful.
57, Henley Road. The large late 19th century redbrick house on the corner of Henley and St. Edmunds Roads is already in multiple use, one of which was a Spiritualist Meeting Room. New owners have made two separate proposals.
(a) Firstly, to convert the house into six apartments which will require the conversion of a garage to a kitchen and the demolition of a 1970s ground floor extension to the rear. We have made some minor objections to the details, but otherwise support the application which has been granted permission
(b) Secondly, the application is to build a three-bed house in the back garden with access from St. Edmunds Road. This would result in the loss of amenity space for the inhabitants of the new apartments and for the new house. There is inadequate car parking space for the new house and the new access would lose a street parking space as well as a length of Victorian garden wall. Additionally, the pastiche design is unacceptable in 2017. We have objected. This has been refused; at the time of writing the decision notice was not available.
Old B&Q site, Grafton Way. The proposal for 130 houses, 81 flats (in a 12 storey tower), 48 live-work units, six restaurants, 60-bed hotel with restaurant, public open space and cycle/walkway has now come to application. Whilst we are keen to see redevelopment of this critical central site, it is vital that it is carried out to a high quality architectural design and landscaping. To that end, the developers carried out a small public consultation last year at the Novotel at which members of the public gave their opinions; there have been three meetings with the IBC and dialogue with Chartered Association of Building Engineers. So far, the developers have failed to produce adequate plans for the riverside walk/cycle-way, its landscaping and connections to the bridges at either end. There would be few trees, no indication of street furniture such as seats, no design details of the cycle and pedestrian way. The double ramp access to the frail Princes Street Bridge is inadequate to encourage people to walk and cycle from the station to the town centre, Cardinal Park, the Waterfront and the University. This is a key part of a transport link to the Sproughton development in due course; it is vital for the future transport links in the town centre and to form an attractive water feature that this is done properly. It is more important for traffic flows in the future than the proposed bridges but far cheaper. You can object directly in the usual way and you can also contact STG, the consultants hired by Ipswich Borough Council to review the Public Realm in the Town Centre.
The developers of Snoasis the proposed leisure and ski slope centre at Great Blakenham have submitted another application to deal with outstanding matters and have announced to the media that they are going to go ahead and that they have raised the money: £450,000,000 is not a lot these days they said to the Star..
Victoria Nursery, Westerfield Road. Temporary extension granted to 31 December 2017 to “allow orderly winding down of business”. The site is zoned for housing.
300 Old Foundry Road (& 4-10 St Margarets Plain). Proposed conversion of The Bar Fontaine by a new developer to 12 apartments. These very small apartments are just within the regulations. Three new dormers on second floor are adequate. The ventilation of rooms overlooking St Margarets Plain which is heavily polluted by both air and noise is problematic. We must hope this development goes ahead; the building is frequently identified in complaints lists as the worst eye-sore in the town.
49 Foxhall Road. Retrospective permission for various changes to what is now a four-chair dental surgery. The Chairman objected at Planning Committee to the industrial style disabled access ramp on the street side and the unacceptable shutters. However, permission was granted.
Great White Horse Hotel. A full application by a Norwich developer to renovate the first floor Trafalgar Room as an upstairs extension of the existing tenant's coffee shop, with a new staircase cut through. The relatively modern 4-storey rear block will be converted to 6 one- bedroom flats. The remainder of the hotel will be changed to a new business centre with individual business suites but a central kitchen and meeting rooms. There will be no work to the existing downstairs retail units. This would appear to be the only way the building can be brought back to economic viability. The only contentious part of the proposals is the staircase which will alter the important Trafalgar Room but it will allow it to come back into public access and use. On balance, with close control of the detailing of the staircase, this is acceptable. It has been granted consent.
66 Orford Street. Replacement of wooden windows with uPVC in a house in a Conservation Area subject to Article 4 development rights, this will surely be refused by the Conservation Officer. Additionally, there have been many local objections.
22-28 Crown Street. Probably built as a garage, it has been an Indian restaurant and a cannabis factory. It has planning permission for change of use to four apartments on the ground floor and three on the first. This application seeks consent for an extra flat on the first floor and the construction of a steel framed second floor with four flats.
Erection of 28 dwellings on redundant hockey pitch, Ipswich Sports Club. The hockey pitch has been refused floodlighting several times and on appeal; thus it has been replaced by a new one at Tuddenham Road. Further, the club wishes to build a 25 metre pool and needs to finance it. The site is zoned for housing in the current Ipswich plan. It would lead to increased traffic in rush hours on Henley Road; this, in our view, is not grounds for refusal but yet another reason for improving traffic flow in the area. The current proposal is for 9 four- bedroom houses, 4 three-bedroom semis, 7 two-bedroom semis, 2 three-bedroom detached and six one-bedroom flats, in two and three storey buildings of contemporary design. The layout of the terraced houses is noteworthy. Unfortunately, there is no developer as yet so this design may not be built although it was granted permission.
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 Central 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]