Momentous political events may have taken place in Britain since our last edition but it is not yet apparent what changes will take place in the planning system. Eric Pickles has been knighted and replaced as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government by the more pragmatic Greg Clark. Whether there will be more national changes remain to be seen...
The Northern Fringe is on hold whilst the developers produce a transport strategy that extends beyond Valley Road and they improve the general design quality to the level that's been laid down.
I have recently toured a 6,850 home new town outside Haarlem in the Netherlands; the differences that struck me were the provision of bus and cycle ways (you can't drive a car directly out of the complex during rush hour), the higher ratio of public to private space, mostly by having smaller gardens and the variety of, largely, excellent designed apartments and flats. Mind you I don't expect to see a canal at the bottom of every street! Many of their ideas could be incorporated in the Northern Fringe to everybody's advantage.
The St Margaret's Green proposal for a care home has been refused; but the air quality problem remains. The solution is extremely difficult.
The Council has bought the old Sugar Beet factory site, with a loan, to ensure that a mixed housing and employment development takes place. Babergh refused permission for such a development a few years ago as it's their last remaining employment zone; it will be interesting to see their response to a new similar proposal.
Meanwhile the Council is pushing ahead with a new office building on the site of the car showrooms and garage in Princes Street and, opposite, Birketts will build new corporate offices on the site of Riley's billiard hall. These will be strong economic drivers to the town centre and its dependent businesses.
The fight for retaining and improving the retail offer in the town centre continues. All the time applications arrive to change the use of buildings on the edge to what we understand as town centre use; an expanded Lidl in London Road, the bowling alley on Boss Hall to be a furniture store, a small site on Europa Way to be an Aldi and an Iceland on the Co-op site at Derby Road /Felixstowe Road. B & M have been trading on Ransomes Euro Park for three years without planning permission, selling up to 45% non-bulky goods. They have now been granted permission to sell up to 20% non-bulky which will be closely monitored. Further, they have agreed to open a store in the town centre in the next two years.
The new owners of the Buttermarket have been granted planning permission to insert 16 screens with 2500 seats, a restaurant and a gym. TK Maxx will move to the ground floor and the car park will be open till late. Cineworld say that Ipswich will have an unsustainable number of screens but it's better than a failing shopping centre.
The proposal for a bridge "across the Wet Dock" is at present nebulous and until we can see what it crosses and how and what it connects to it is impossible to make any meaningful comment. We look forward to the promised £2m survey and reading its results.