I attended a six hour Master Planning exercise mounted by the agents for the developers, David Lock Associates. Approximately 45 people were present. After the DLA lead made it clear that, despite the objections, the development would go ahead and we would not be discussing anything but the details of the development, she went on to describe the site and what would eventually be there. We were taken by bus on a tour around the perimeter of the site as access for a large group to the interior is not practicable. We learned about its boundaries, its topography, its gentle rises and the railway route. We also looked at possible access points. After the inspection of the waving cereal in the field on Henley Road beyond the railway, I got the sense that pretty well all the party felt this would be a real loss of a fine piece of agricultural land and a loss of green belt.
After lunch, we divided into six groups. We fell to planning what we had previously decided was desirable using the plan of the site and different coloured tiles representing the different uses. The morning group discussion had decided on a huge wish list - one railway bridge, 4,000 dwellings (none more than three storeys high), spaces for two cars, three primary schools, one secondary school, a health centre, a sports ground. a community centre with a hall, a district shopping centre, a country park, a circular bus route using access points from Henley Road and Westerfield Road (but not Valley Road), a pedestrian and cycle route from north to south through the entire development and continuing south to Ipswich town centre. The groups produced their plans; of course the wish list was so long it was nigh on impossible to fit them all in. More importantly, if all were to be included in the Section 106 conditions,
it would be unviable. DLA have gone away to absorb all the ideas and consider the plans. In general terms, the proposals and criteria set by the groups do fulfil all the Society would like to see if it takes place to its full extent. My fear is that without public money. no developer will commit to such an expensive scheme and a smaller one will be pushed through by developer demand.
Tesco, Grafton Way
This re-application is considerably changed for the better as it is much smaller. There is only a food store which is 35% smaller. plus ten other retail units, 16 four-bed town houses with south facing roof terraces overlooking the river, two hotels. 455 parking spaces and 164 cycle spaces. The development will be connected to Princes Street Bridge by a walkway. As part of the transport plan, the Novotel gyratory system will be changed to a single north- south oblong roundabout. Six crossing points and their traffic lights will control flow of all users. Two new bus stops will be provided in Grafton Way. But the Society is still concerned and is making these points:
- It will have a footfall effect on the town centre.
- The parking regulations must be drawn up, as tight regulations are possible and enforced.
- The transport plan includes two bus stops and mention of the new circular bus service. A condition must be that this service is running on opening day and every day thereafter.
- We are unhappy with the architecture of the town houses.
- We shall look more closely at the walkway to Princes Street and make comment.
Crane's site, Nacton Road, now re-named Futura
In the original planning application the large site opposite the John Lewis development was to be a DIY or bulky goods store. Unsurprisingly, since all the usual suspects are well accommodated already, they have had to re-jig the lessees to furniture, soft furnishings and a couple of coffee shops. Yet again these retailers will reduce the town centre.
Premier Inn, Key Street
When permission was granted in 2005 for the construction of a hotel on this island site between Star Lane and Key Street the cladding was to be 'eternit' panels and aluminium windows. The hotel is now to be a Premier Inn and so a change to their brand of purple render and Danehill yellow bricks has been applied for. There were some IBC objections to this colour in a Conservation Area with many Listed buildings nearby, most notably the Grade II* Custom House. The Conservation Advisory Panel was not convinced the Premier Inn purple render was so inappropriate.
Waterfront Area parking
Enforcement notices are being served on car park operators to ensure that they comply with their planning conditions, so that wasteland is not used for general car parking and that all- day parking at low rates does not creep in. These are increasing commuter car traffic.
75 Valley Road
This application is for a 3-bedroom house in the owner's large back garden. A planning inspector commenting on a neighbouring proposal in 2005 allowed the building of annexes but said that the area is within a green corridor [a continuation of Broom hill Park] on the Local Plan and the building of a house here would set a precedent out of character with the area. The Society agrees and has written to IBC accordingly.
Buttermarket Shopping Centre
The proposal is for a 9-screen cinema of 1350 seats capacity over three floors to be run by Vue, a well-established chain. There will also be six new 'family' restaurants. Currently the Centre has a 50% floor area occupancy. This is a major change from retail to leisure.