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Newsletter, January 2009 (Issue 174)

Waterfront Update


Despite the current economic climate, work continues on most of the Waterfront projects. Fluorescent yellow jackets can be seen on the Cranfield's Mill (Laing O'Rourke) site, on Voyage Ranelagh Road (Fairview) and fitting out the commercial units within Regatta Quay.

Committed developments currently waiting a start date include the following:

St Peter's Port (between St Peter's and St Mary at Quay churches) has planning permission for three hotels, an office block and ground floor retail, but there has to be an archaeological investigation before any work can start. Braceforce are negotiating the extent of this dig, and re-evaluating the three storeys of basement car parking previously considered. Public car parking on this site is considered essential to the successful operation of Dance East.

Cranfield's Mill. The shell of Dance East is complete and fit-out should have started by the time you read this. There will be three dance studios and an auditorium, cafe and offices for the regional dance centre. Completion is due mid-autumn 2009. Cranfield's two associated sites on the north side of Key Street, the western and eastern triangles (the western triangle was Allied Mills garage, the eastern their lorry wash facility) are both to become student accommodation. Wharfside Regeneration are proposing 400 units over 8 storeys, an increase on the size of the permission granted for the hotel and social housing schemes on these two sites. Flood evacuation will be by footbridge over the inter-connecting link road.

BOCM Paul's offices in a scheme submitted as "47 Key Street" refers to a major development between Salthouse Street, Key Street, Slade Street and the back of the Listed property in Fore Street. The scheme surrounds the Jewish Cemetery which will be retained and enhanced. It comprises 200 residential units, some in a 12 storey tower, 1500 sq ft of retail at ground floor, and improvements to the Johns & Slater 1930s office building curving into Key Street. This scheme includes a multi-storey car park for public use (which will be essential if the retail element in this location is to be successful).

Island House (Premier Pool Club) is on the small parcel of land bounded by John Street and Wykes Bishop Street (off Duke Street). This scheme by architects Wincer Kievenaar has planning permission for 185 student rooms but almost no parking (three drop-off spaces). We understand the site is now for sale with the benefit of planning permission. This has probably been driven by the fact that on the University site immediately to the north developers have gained permission for some 400 student housing units.

Orwell Quay, the area previously known as Shed 7. University Campus Suffolk have divided this extensive plot into three. On the Duke Street frontage, student accommodation has planning permission, as noted above. This includes operational car parking for 100 vehicles - not for the students but for the commercial units fronting the street and for the academic building on the quayside. On the Waterfront (northern portion of the site) UCS have applied for permission for this Phase 2 academic building, some 15,000 sq m of accommodation. (For comparison, the existing UCS building is 10,000 sq m.) On the southern Waterfront portion of the site, nothing is currently proposed and we expect the temporary car parking to continue.

Shed 8 is the major space, currently a car park, immediately south of Neptune Marina apartments. London Provincial and Overseas have had planning permission refused on three occasions but continue to push for the right combination of hotels, apartments and commercial outlets. Their recent schemes included raising the ground floor on to a podium to avoid the flood risk, effectively placing the retail units at first floor level (not adjacent to people perambulating along the water's edge) and creating car parking spaces below.

It has now been twenty years since the first of the Waterfront apartments was occupied. There has been endless debate and promise but nothing has changed to the road system. Buses still don't use the gyratory system and the advice I received from the Borough Engineer on the opening of Star Lane 25 years ago is still pertinent - "Cyclists should find an alternative route".

John Norman

    Front cover of issue 174 Cover, issue 174

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