All around central Ipswich information monoliths have now been installed. These are high quality street plans with sites of interest added, walking directions and other information. They will replace all other street information in due course and are downloadable to your smart phone. The company responsible is internationally regarded; the results look excellent.
One of Civic Voice's continuing national campaigns is for individual societies to become active in getting clutter - unwanted, unused and unnecessary signs - off our streets. Here in Ipswich, the Conservation Panel is carrying out surveys which IBC's Head of Conservation is leading, together with an enthusiastic Highways Officer. Furthermore there is a budget, so that a remarkable number of signs will in due course be removed.
The Government has issued a policy statement which should allow traffic signage of all types to be employed in a more sensible and less bureaucratic style so that street clutter should no longer be created. Clearly safety must still be paramount but exercised by common sense rather than blind application of the Department of Transport's manual.
Proposed new music centre, Ipswich School
After the initial refusal the School, using the same architects expert in such structures, has come back with a modified design that does answer some of the critics, particularly local residents' worries. The mass has been reduced by dropping the building 0.5m below ground, the percussion practice rooms and plant rooms have been placed in a basement, there are no windows opening on the west elevation, and the roofline has been lowered. By moving the building 2.5m to the east and slanting it in line with Holly Road, the yew tree will be saved. However, aesthetically it's not a coherent nor exciting building and of a large mass. Further, there remain considerable concerns about traffic generation and parking around events. The School needs to provide a satisfactory travel plan which is adhered to and do some public relations work with its neighbours on traffic.
Alexander House, St Matthew's Street
This is on the Local List and has been afforded some protection in that the Conservation Panel has put forward opinions on proposals for alterations and has successfully had the various proposals improved. The owners now wish to add a second additional storey, again zinc-clad but with odd fenestration consisting of small portholes. Plumbers, installing the outlets of the students' rooms' condensing boilers have peppered the walls in a destructive pattern to the ordered neo-classicism of the original 1840 building. This would add further indignities.
This has now received Royal Assent. Some key changes therefore are: Regional Strategic Spatial Surveys are abolished so that the factual basis for regional strategic planning is to be ignored and all plans will be local to a specific local planning authority. Neighbourhood Forums now have the powers to produce plans for the future. The Independent Infrastructure Planning Commission is abolished. Its place is taken by a similarly titled group within the Department of Local Government.