The future of the Cornhill
from Mrs Rani Pert
I too write to say how dismayed I am at the choice of the Council re: the Cornhill.
The two buildings to be affected, the Town Hall and the Old Post Office, are grand in design which incorporates the stairs - the removal of these to form a level platform will arguably make the buildings look out of proportion, apart from the challenges of the design which will incur huge expense.
The open space of the Cornhill is great - and marvellous for things like New Year's Eve, the cycle race, and any event needing an open space. It can certainly be tidied up, and more seating placed there as well as maybe a feature statue.
I do wonder why the Council does not approach or ask the people what they would like; maybe a competition as happened with the Wheel in London.
I attended the display [in the Town Hall in September 2013] and it was plainly obvious to me regardless of what we say, the Council were going to pursue a change, taking one of the five designs presented, none of which were by a local company who understand Ipswich and its needs.
The Town needs regeneration and at the moment all the Council are succeeding in doing is stopping people from coming to the Town. The traffic schemes are challenging, all the traffic lights and the cost of parking is prohibitive. It will be made worse by changing the double roundabout at Norwich Road into traffic lights.
We need a crowd-puller, and the alteration of Cornhill will not be the answer.
from John Clough
I must write to tell you how emphatically I agree with every word you say in the Newsletter on this subject, and to echo the hint in your subtitle. It is appalling to contemplate £3,000,000 being spent on the Cornhill to such small apparent effect. Large sums have just been spent on the two bus stations with similar non-results, opportunities to improve the designs being entirely missed.
Your demand for proper resurfacing of pedestrianised streets prompts me to appeal for a more frequent cleanup of the chewing gum which we now have to walk on all over the town centre, though a permanent solution is what is really needed. A much larger number of small litter bins might help.
On residential development in the town centre - I have never understood why floors above small retail premises cannot be put to greater residential use. This would bring life to the area and improve the security of the shops. Could the rating system be used to encourage this?
The Newsletter's Planning coverage
from Councillor Carole Jones, (Executive member, Economic Development & Planning, Ipswich Borough Council)
I always read the Society's Newsletter with interest and, as a Borough councillor and an individual, have great respect for the work the Society has done and continues to do.
However, I feel I must comment on some aspects of recent Newsletters.
- 'Planning Matters': Mr Cook is unhappy that approval was given to a house in the grounds of Tudor House Stone Lodge Lane. That is fair enough. But to then attack the Council's planning department for 'this continuing granting of permission to aesthetically unsatisfactory buildings' is a wild leap from the specific to the general. It is very unfair to planning officers, who have fought hard to preserve Barton Wood and Tudor Lodge - for instance, in 2011 the Council won an appeal against a decision to refuse permission to build 28 houses in the grounds. For the record, Committee and officers have regularly refused planning permission on design grounds. Clearly the Committee didn't agree with Mr Cook on this particular application but, to a degree, design will always be a subjective issue.
- The Emperor public house, Norwich Road: Mr Cook has misunderstood the application. Tesco did not need planning permission for a change of use. Their application was for an extension to the building. The comment that 'planning officers didn't handle the case well' is unjustified, and not supported by any evidence; there is no basis in planning law for refusing an application for an extension simply because you don't like a lawful use of the site. As a ward councillor I represented local residents in opposing this application at Committee. The bottom line was that Punch Taverns, the owners, did not want to keep the pub open.
- The Council does not support out-of-town retailing at the expense of the town centre. If we could have persuaded John Lewis to open up in the town centre, we would have; it would have had a completely transformative effect on our town centre retailing. But JLP were unmoveable. The Futura Park development was a second best, but the application 'enabled' the decontamination of the whole site and its preparation for wider employment uses. Also, at Committee it was noted that Ipswich Central lodged no objections to the application, which was significant as they represent many town centre retailers.
- The Martlesham Heath out-of-town stores Mr Cook mentions are in Suffolk Coastal, not Ipswich Borough, and were approved by them despite the Borough's objections.
Thank you for the opportunity to respond. Meanwhile, I look forward to continuing to work with the Society for the benefit of our town.
All best wishes,
Councillor Carole Jones (Portfolio-holder for Planning Ipswich Borough Council