Despite the rush of planning applications since the beginning of the year (400 thus far) the past couple of weeks have seen a dearth of applications in Conservation Areas and for listed buildings.
Possibly the most contentious is for a large detached property in the vacant space alongside Woodside, Constitution Hill. This plot sits beyond the green space which is seen from Valley Road, space which includes a walled garden and occasional sheep grazing. This was the third application for a single but very large dwelling on this site, the first two having been withdrawn after discussions with the planners. There had been a number of objections to the first two applications including from English Heritage and from The Ipswich Society. We wrote again repeating our general concerns on receipt of the third application but the architect had addressed the comments of the planners, the Conservation and Design Panel and individual objectors.
The Development Control Committee decided that planning permission should be granted subject to a number of conditions including tweaking of the fenestration.
A retail outlet, B&M, which has some 370 outlets across the country including Copdock Retail Park and Ransomes Euro Park, is operating in a market previously served by Woolworths. They have applied for a change in one of the conditions which applies to their Euro Park store (The Sandlings). The original planning permission restricted sales to large and bulky goods (with a maximum 10% of floor space to non-bulky goods).
Planning officers recommended refusal on a number of grounds, primarily that there are vacant units in the town centre where this type of store should be located. The original planning permission for The Sandlings restricted sales to bulky goods and specifically excluded food. The granting of planning permission would set a precedent for similar out-of-town stores to the detriment of trade in the town centre.
Ordinarily an application for planning permission for a convenience store (which attracts multiple car visits) should be accompanied by a traffic impact assessment and, if necessary, changes to the road layout. By moving into an existing store and ignoring imposed restrictions on the sale of food and other non-bulky goods B&M have avoided this requirement and the possible expenditure involved.
The letter from the Society supporting the officers' recommendation picked up on the increased traffic a convenience store (including B&M) would bring to a trading estate.
B&M withdrew their application just before the Development Control meeting which probably means they can continue trading (in contravention of the planning rules) for some time.
There are some subtle changes taking place within the Grade I Listed Willis building, very few of which will be noticeable to the occasional visitor. Perhaps the one exception will be the increased security just inside the front doors where turnstiles are being installed. For a building 40 years old it remains remarkably fresh and pleasant.
Fison House, 159 Princes Street
By comparison Fison House diagonally across the road from the Fire Station is showing its age. It was purchased by a developer some time ago but they have been unable to find tenants so have now applied for planning permission to clad the building in large insulated coloured panels. In a random mix of silver and beige which includes enclosure of part of the ground floor (hiding the V columns) the building will hopefully find a new use. Fison House was designed by Birkin Haward (Johns, Slater and Haward) but could not be listed as technically it was never finished (only three of the four sides were ever built). Given its location close to the Courts, the Civic Buildings and three minutes' walk to the railway station it is ideally located.
The Regent Theatre
Some might say at last but the Regent is getting an improved air conditioning system. The downside is that the air handling units will be on the roof and can be seen from the occasional place on the ground; internally ductwork can be accommodated inside existing features. The good news is that there are to be improvements and restoration of decorative features in the Crush Hall (the bar area just outside the auditorium doors) which will additionally be redecorated in the original colours.
There is a dilapidated cottage off the bridle way (behind the big houses in Fonnereau Road) converted from what was probably an old stable and coach house. An application to replace the building with a modern architect designed house will improve the ambience of the view.