Tesco, Grafton Way
The B & Q store has been demolished even though Tesco's application has not yet been heard by the Borough's Planning and Development Committee. The Society continues to object to the principle but I fear the town centre is going to have to change (see my article in the October Newsletter). Tesco's revised drawings were received on 6 December involving an increase in the size of the retail store floor space by 640m sq (gross) to 9422m sq in total (gross) and re-configuration of the building, access and parking arrangements. Time has not permitted thorough examination of these latest plans but at first sight the Society's objections will be reinforced!
Futura (former Crane's) site
The John Lewis/Waitrose stores opened on time on 8 November to huge crowds. Parking marshals were employed but traffic was backed down Nacton Road and to the A14 as predicted here but denied by the Highways Agency and Suffolk County Council. The entrance from Nacton Road will be opened as soon as possible; they are also considering bringing forward other Section 106 highway improvements.
Ipswich Central has organised a modern Christmas tree and brand new lights. There has been a 'Marmite' response -love it or loathe it! But this is good publicity and together with a European market there has been a sense of revival.
Former fire station site, Colchester Road
Planning permission has been granted to Hopkins Homes for 59 dwellings including 25% social housing. The developers have agreed to several changes to the design of the gable ends fronting Colchester Road and reduced their height to conform to the roofline of the other houses after firm comments by the Conservation and Design Panel. Many other desirable changes were applied. Suffolk County Council requires a contribution of £388,000 for education, libraries, waste, extra care housing and broadband.
Golden Key pub, Woodbridge Road
The Borough's Planning Committee refused conversion of this Greene King pub because the Highways Agency stated that it would not be safe opening on to Woodbridge Road at the Roundwood junction. The Planning Inspector allowed the appeal with costs against IBC which were high because Greene King hired expensive traffic consultants who refuted the Highways Agency's figures with more figures. I wonder who pays - IBC or SCC? We don't know who the operator of the small supermarket store will be. It is still open as a pub.
Land next to the Mermaid, Yarmouth Road
Marstons applied to build a 28 bed lodge hotel. The design was so plain, shed-like and unappealing that the developers were asked to come back with a more attractive design. It is worth noting that the hotel employs nobody; cleaning and janitorial services are contracted out. Entry and payment will all be conducted by credit cards.
16 Constitution Hill
An application for an extremely large mansion on the site of the Victorian gardens of the Grade II* Listed 'Woodside' has been withdrawn. Apart from the visual aspects of the design. its size would have impacted severely on the green view from Valley Road.
'The Spinney', 108 Westerfield Road
This house designed for his family by Birkin Haward in 1960 was swiftly' Spot Listed' by our former Conservation Officer, Bob Kindred, to save it from demolition three years ago. Now Listed with great support from our former Suffolk Twentieth Century Adviser and the Society, it has been bought by a private buyer who wishes to carry out some updating. It has generous glazing but of single thickness glass and a thin roof and largely uninsulated walls. Appropriate changes have been designed which will have minimal impact on its appearance.
Westbourne Library, Sherrington Road
Through the efforts of the Friends of Westbourne Library it has been Listed Grade II. It was designed by the Borough Surveyor, E McLauchlan, as an air raid shelter and gas decontamination centre and built in 1942. It is a rare survivor of such a type of building with a tower perhaps once used as a look out when it was a shelter, but a decontamination centre typically had a water tank in a tower to serve the showers, eye douche and boiler room. There would have been an air lock, undressing area, showers and drying room. It was converted to a public library in 1946-7. (Editor: from fear in war to love of books: great!) It is also unusual in having Modernist decorations, like those of the neighbouring Broomhill Pool, also designed by McLauchlan.
The Friends of Westbourne Library, led by Garath Jones, have done sterling work in saving the library and setting up a credit union. Mark Ling. born in Sherrington Road and Chairman of the Broomhill Pool Trust has driven hard with councillors, the Borough and MPs to improve what has been an under-resourced area. It seems their enthusiasm energy and persistence is starting to payoff.