More than 150 Ipswich Society members gathered for the organisation's 57th Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 26 April, to discuss key developments in the town over the last year. The AGM, held at the University of Suffolk's Waterfront Building, featured a talk by Ipswich Borough Council's new Senior Conservation and Urban Design Officer, Mike Taylor. Points of discussion included the town's local list, urban characterisation study and projects expected over the coming year.
An introduction by the Society's President The Mayor of Ipswich, Roger Fern (in one of his final engagements in that post) set the tone for the evening. Mike Taylor gave a cogent and interesting talk on one facet of the Borough's work for the town.
An Urban Character study provides guidance for developers and planners to use. It is based on character areas, which have been identified using factors such as historical character, topography, natural features and street types. It provides urban design analysis and information but not prescriptive advice about how development should be designed.
For each character area, the SPD (Strategic Planning Document) provides information on the historical background, biodiversity and archaeology, transport and access, open space and green space, landform and views, urban analysis and on sub-areas within each broad character area.
In 2015 the Council adopted the Ipswich Urban Character SPDs for Norwich Road; Gipping and Orwell Valley; Parks; California; Chantry, Stoke Park and Maidenhall. The remaining parts of the Borough are scheduled to be characterised in the next phase of work which is ongoing.
The documents are available online and comprise attractive, well-designed spreads of information, maps, period and location photographs, detail images and captions with an overall summary at the end. It is the inclusion of smaller details of brickwork, railings and other features which bring the documents to life - particularly if you live in or know the locality. They point up the importance of things we normally take for granted: the importance of neighbourhood and the differences between neighbourhoods, as well as the dramatic changes to a familiar place which would result from the removal of a couple of trees, or a landmark building.
Viewing the ‘then and now' photographs which Tim Leggett produces (with such attention to detail) on the Society's Facebook page and on their dedicated album on our online Image Archive, reveals that Ipswich is no stranger to this sort of alteration in the urban landscape.