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Listed Buildings
of Ipswich Pykenham's Gatehouse (Grade I)

Newsletter, January 2009 (Issue 174)

Recent Planning News

Proposed Tesco development, Commercial Road/Grafton Way
Spenhill, Tesco's property company, have held a public consultation concerning this large site which they now own. It extends from Stoke Bridge and Princes Street Bridge to the east and west respectively, and the river to the south. Tesco do not own the business sheds 5 to 15 next to Princes Street, nor the skateboard park. Thus it consists of Fabric World, B&Q and its car park, and all the former railway property.

Their proposals are as follows:

  • A Tesco about the same size as Copdock's with a car park under and above the store.
  • A five storey riverside apartment block, social housing on the ground floor and duplex apartments on the upper floors; a total of 147.
  • A riverside boulevard with dedicated pedestrian and cycle ways.
  • At the east end, above the storm reservoirs, two hotels.

Their rationale is that there is no large supermarket in central Ipswich for the increasing population over the next few years; its presence will stop people driving out to one of the peripheral stores; they intend parking to be free for the first three hours so that shoppers will park, walk to the town centre and back to Tesco's to do the big one and then home.

There are major problems with the site: contamination from the railway yards: a 132,000 volt cable runs the length and will have to be moved; construction over the storm reservoirs.

The Environment Agency insists that the flood level is taken as the existing level and this means that all habitable buildings must be one storey up.

The scheme as many of us saw it is not unattractive. It is unlikely there can be a dismissal under development plans. However, there will need to be many changes and conditions before it is acceptable to the Society. Finally, we were told that they planned to open for late 2010, but they haven't applied for planning permission yet and some archaeological survey will be needed. In the face of the current retail recession this timetable seems unlikely.

Broadmeadow (former sugar beet factory site), Sproughton Road
The Ipswich Society is strongly of the opinion that a mixed but predominantly residential development is by far the best option. The advantages of the supporting infrastructure (schools, shops, health centre, care home) together with hundreds of houses will eventually lead to a community with heart. To ensure its move towards local sustainability some employment opportunities should be provided on the site.

But this development will be a major traffic generator. It is essential that a scheme to provide easy pedestrian, cycle and possibly a small bus route to the centre of Ipswich and the railway station should be constructed by upgrading the existing river path. Otherwise there will be unacceptable increases on the Bramford Road axis which will spill over on to the AI4/AI2.

This type of solution would provide some answers to Ipswich and Babergh's housing needs. But we think it highly unlikely Network Rail would install a junction on its busy main line as there are already ten train movements an hour. And we should not be attempting to solve the problems that others have with the management of containers by using this land close to Ipswich town centre that could be highly useful otherwise for real employment or housing. The Society will object to a container storage depot in the event of such an application.

Former Civic Centre (Westgate Centre): erection of mixed development to provide 21,152 sq m of new retail space and cafe/restaurant with 11 new dwellings, extension to existing theatre, associated car parking, etc.
The Society's response to this actual planning application is very similar to what we said about the outline plans at the public consultation (see October Newsletter pp 10-11). We broadly welcomed the scheme and noted its proximity to many bus services which would make it less dependent on car use. We queried the role of the public arena and regretted that the developers had not (yet?) been able to buy the whole site for an overall scheme. The key matter is the retail space, our comments on which are worth repeating:

"This is the most controversial aspect and it is difficult to foresee what it should consist of and what its effect would be on the viability of the existing town centre shopping which we are very concerned about. But in any case we advocate a high quality development which would enhance the appeal of Ipswich town centre as a whole, bringing more people into Ipswich for their whole range of shopping in both the new and the older shops. This might suggest a good quality department store in view of its very large proposed size and multi-storey nature. In these increasingly difficult times for the retail trade we feel the developers may be optimistic in filling all the space."

But we have also added: "We do like that you propose to demolish the undistinguished 1960s buildings on the south east side of Lady Lane which will ensure a notable entrance to the new retail quarter."

'Shed 7', Orwell Quay/ Duke Street: erection of 6 storey academic building, including ground floor restaurant and student union
Shed 7 is the southern part of the temporary car park on Orwell Quay, the eastern side of the dock. The site belongs to DCS and will be developed in three stages as student numbers and income allow. It will be separated from the recently approved accommodation on Duke Street by a boulevard. Escape from floods will be by a bridge to that accommodation block. The Society recognises the anxieties of the Environment Agency especially after the Tewkesbury and Hull floods but we question the need for an escape bridge in view of the height from the ground and the likelihood of a flood barrier. The proposed new building is the work of RMJM Architects, designers of the existing UCS building, and it has been designed to stand alone until the second phase is built.

Adastral Park
Although outside the Borough boundary, this huge proposed development by BT (2000 new homes plus innovation park) would have a profound effect on traffic flows in eastern Ipswich. For this and other reasons "we believe this application is premature and is of such importance that it should be 'called in' and dealt with by a planning enquiry."

The outcome of previous planning applications:

Neptune Quay, extension to Salthouse Harbour Hotel- we supported it; granted planning permission, with a Section 106 condition of £26,000 contribution to education and transport.

1 Cobbold Street, erection of flats - permission granted for what we thought was too high and bulky in this area.

55 Westerfield Road, demolition of existing building and re-building of 5 flats. This further application was approved despite objections from over 100 local people, the Conservation Advisory Panel and our Society.

19 St Margaret's Green, new building for 76 student rooms and commercial/retail space - we preferred the previous plan but this second application was approved with no changes, beyond a management plan to control the students!

    Front cover of issue 174 Cover, issue 174

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