St Peters Dock. This length of the waterfront is owned by the Borough. Continuing improvement is taking place; 4-6 College Street is to be restored, the site of the maltings is being actively considered for development, the brick portion of the Burton warehouse has received a grant for its conversion into a space for the Gecko International Theatre and the quay itself has been rejuvenated by Suffolk County Council.
Multi-storey car park, Princes Street. One certain outcome of the pandemic will be more home working and less office use. This will have unforeseen and unpredictable effects on the use of offices, of cities and towns, retail and hospitality industries therein, and transport systems. So, Ipswich Borough Council’s economic strategic plan to make Princes Street a high end office boulevard with a good railway service at one end to the City and Canary Wharf and a thriving town centre with retail and varied hospitality offers around a modernised Cornhill at the other with a modern multi-storey car park in the middle for out-of-town callers, is well thought out and will be a big economic driver for the town. The act of God that is Covid-19 has made the outlook, at present, not quite so rosy. However, things may well change and this is only an outline application. As has been pointed out, the land use will be much more efficient, as there won’t be an increase in the total number of spaces and it will be greener because it will triple the number of electric car charging points in central Ipswich. The land vacated may well become a hotel and housing in the near future, as well as a green space.
Broomhill Pool. When I last wrote in these pages optimistically about the future of the lido; all was proceeding smoothly with the appointment of contractors imminent. Then the virus struck; lockdown day coincided with their appointment. The chosen operators, a large not-for-profit charitable trust, Fusion-Lifestyle, had to close all their 84 leisure facilities across England and furlough their 2,000 staff. They have reopened most outlets, including five out of six of their lidos (Hinksey, Oxford has developed a leak). So, their future plans and finances have been turned upside down and all major capital projects put on hold, at least until 2021. Currently, we do not know how matters will proceed for Broomhill Pool; however, I have been optimistic for eighteen years and remain absolutely confident that the lido will reopen. It's not ‘if’ but ‘when?’.
9-11 Museum Street (former Strutt and Parker offices). S & P have been granted permission to convert this listed, late Georgian house to nine one bedroom apartments. Whilst we are always happy to see more dwellings in the town centre, surely the time has come to insist on larger apartments, maisonettes or even a whole house. Museum Street, when all the office-to- apartment conversions are occupied will become a warren of the young, transient population. Time for a rethink, but it is difficult to see how the planning system could be changed to regulate such matters; this includes the future conversion of no longer used office buildings to rabbit hutch habitations when permission is not required for change of use.
Ipswich Local Plan. Meanwhile, The Ipswich Local Plan has reached the final stage of its production: interrogation by a Planning Inspector at a series of open meetings. When they commence – presumably virtually – we shall be observing and, if necessary, contributing. Note, that as Ipswich has a Local Plan, no land to speak of and an efficient planning department, there won’t be many changes within the Borough boundary. But outside, in the District Councils (which happen to be run by Conservative councillors), plans are less well developed and there is land aplenty. Voters may well not be so happy.
The Business and Planning Act (2020) introduced at the end of August, under the cover of Covid-19, this allows for the enlargement of a dwelling house with up to two extra storeys on an existing two storey building, an extra one storey on a bungalow together with the demolition of small buildings and their replacement with taller and larger ones and the enlargement of a dwelling house consisting of the construction of up to two additional storeys, where the existing dwelling house consists of two or more storeys; or one additional storey, where the existing dwelling house consists of one storey, immediately above the topmost storey of the dwelling house, together with any engineering operations reasonably necessary for the purpose of that construction. There are several restrictions where permission will still need to be obtained (only 1948-2018 houses). But it could lead to a rash of unsightly extensions upwards. Additionally, there are changes to the classification of businesses to allow easier change of use, largely for the hospitality industry, I suspect.
For the first time that I can recall, I can find no application in the last few weeks worthy of inclusion in these notes.
(See page 10 for Mike’s summary of the new Planning White Paper – Ed.)