The previously headlined house-building boom around the Wet Dock is happening now. By the spring of 2002 a multitude of flats and apartments will be available. As John Norman reports below, there are currently 500 units under construction with a similar number under consideration with restaurants, bars and the possibility of a new college at the planning stage.
Stoke Quay (formerly New Cut West)
Close to Felaw Maltings, Bellway are building a seven-storey block of 29 apartments which they are marketing as Quay West. It is a brave venture for Bellway who are once again showing their faith in the developing Waterfront by building alongside the tidal New Cut. Members with an interest in construction techniques will like to know that the structure is reinforced concrete, rather than steel frame, and may wish to speculate on reasons for this choice. (photo below)
Cranfields (Allied Mills)
The East of England Development Agency purchased this vast complex of buildings last year, spent a considerable sum of money removing asbestos and the detritus of industrial decline and held a competition to help select a development partner. Negotiations are continuing but it appears likely that the new uses for the site will include a hotel, residential units, leisure facilities on the dockside frontage and the omnipresent car parking. There have been rumours of an arts cinema complex being included, Dance East having practice and performance space within the building and the possibility of the retention of some of the previous offices.
Salthouse Harbour Hotel
Work has started on the former John Good & Sons warehouse on Wherry Quay. The proposal is for a 40-bedroorn high quality hotel and restaurant, set to become one of the best in Suffolk. The building is immediately adjacent to Isaac Lord's complex, which makes the project environ- mentally sensitive. It is situated between the former Neptune Inn (Fore Street) and the Waterfront.
Suffolk College site, Coprolite Street
The last remnants of the Eastern Counties Farmers have been removed, new fences erected and the temporary car park extended. Plans to sell the main college site continue and if the dreams come to fruition a new college could be built on the Waterfront. Development here would be linked with further new buildings on the existing college car park north of Fore Street, which, if the Local Plan proposals are implemented, will be downgraded into a bus and cycle green route.
Following a major conversion project, the former electricity sub-station on the comer of Duke Street and Fore Hamlet has become the new home of Mortimer's Fish Restaurant (previously on the Northern Quays close to Contship). The building has become a landmark on this very busy junction and the restaurant is, by all accounts, better than its previous incarnation. It is certainly clean, bright and what has been lost in terms of harbour views has been replaced with an interior in a maritime theme. (And the clock is working: thank you, Ken and Elizabeth Ambler.)
Redrow, Coprolite Street
Immediately south of Coprolite Street on land previously used for boat storage, Redrow Homes are about to start work on an apartment block of 113 units. Innovative in design, impressive in external appearance (at least in the photomontages) and set to become one of the tallest buildings east of the Historic Waterfront, the project will incorporate restaurant, boat storage and workshop, and new offices for Neptune Marina.
Persimmon, Patteson Road
The largest scheme, and probably the one with the greatest financial risk, currently under way is the Persimmon development of the old gas works site in Patteson Road. The project has started with Knight's Environmental removing and decontaminating polluted concrete, soil and other below ground nasties. More than £3million is being spent on removing lead, cadmium, arsenic and other toxic substances, which leached into the ground when the gasworks were operational.
At one stage the hole they had opened up alongside Gasworks Quay suggested they might be reopening the old gas dock which was filled in to enable the gas works to expand in the mid 1800s. Some of the decontaminated material is being treated on site and reused as fill. There is a piling-rig drilling for chalk, which previous exploration indicated was in places as deep as 40m below the surface. At this depth and with the very poor bearing capacity of the chalk encountered, the previous scheme for a sixteen-storey tower block has been replaced with one of eleven storeys. Alongside the quay, but set back from it to create a public space, will be a number of five-storey blocks on a raised (above the occasional flood) podium with car parking hidden underneath. Behind this, a mix of two- and three-storey houses set around a green square, with the renovated Gas Board offices providing the interest on the Duke Street frontage.
JOHN NORMAN, Vice-Chairman