...it's our town

Listed Buildings
of Ipswich Willis Building (Grade I)

Newsletter, April 2011 (Issue 183)

Planning News and Comment

The total number of planning applications submitted to the Borough Council each year has fluctuated considerably as can be seen in these figures: In 2002 there were 1301 applications, followed by 2003, 1324/ in 2004, 1165/ in 2005, 1120/ in 2006, 1193/ in 2007, 1134/ in 2008, 985/ in 2009, 846/ in 2010, 1038. The figures show that there has been some recovery in numbers but they do not reveal the much more disproportionate fall in major applications which were such a feature before 2008. Further, they don't show up the sites which have planning permission but never a sod turned!

Nos 7 to 11 Great Whip Street. This is the biggest recent application. It is the third proposal for the redevelopment of the site facing Stoke Quay (New Cut West). Permission has been granted for residential use (25 houses, 280 flats and 79 extra-care beds). Originally 35% 'affordable', this has been negotiated down to 25% because of the agreed independent view of the marginal viability of the scheme. There will be undercroft parking and 8 retail outlets facing the docks (flood plain considerations). The design is of four separate blocks rising from the south to the northern end with a 13 storey tower. There are a lot of good things about the external design-deep fenestration, interesting use of colours, lots of balconies, etc. But it is a bit big and will over-power Stoke and its Conservation Area considerably.

V A Marriott's Builders' site, Handford Road. Permission has been granted for a not dependent care home. There have been some improvements in the Alderman Canal aspect. Otherwise the design is perhaps a bit better than usual. Some members felt that the old red brick pub should be kept. However I spoke to many who felt it was not worth conserving - it's not a Conservation Area nor on any list.

Electric House. The new owner has commissioned plans for part-demolition of the existing building retaining the former electricity showroom facade, and erecting a framed 3 storey building with basement and roof terrace for retail, financial and professional services, restaurants and cafes. Each elevation will include display windows. Permission has been granted subject to negotiation of details and the Section 106 contribution (£20,000) to Tower Ramparts bus station.

Tacket Street car park. NCP proposed an 8 bay car wash at the entrance. We have, with the Conservation Advisory Panel, objected to a similar application for a nearby car park on Conservation Area grounds. The application was refused by IBC.

Commercial Road car park - the Society is conducting an oversight of car park operators who are ignoring their planning conditions by offering cheap all-day parking which encourages car commuters.

94-96 Norwich Road. A fresh application to convert these two shops to houses has been made. The Society does not think the developer has made sufficient effort to improve the shop units so that users have not come forward. This road should be maintained as a vibrant multi cultural shopping street. The previous reasons for refusal remain valid in our view.

2 Constitution Hill. The original plans have been considerably modified. The house will be 2.5 storeys high and will clearly be more visible than the current structure.

Tesco, Grafton Way. Agreement on Section 106 has now been reached and planning approval granted. The consent runs to 10 pages and includes these interesting points: Development cannot start until "the details of public realm design of the Bridge Street/ St Peter's Street/ Greyfriars Road/ Grafton Way junction are agreed by the Highway Authority (i.e. SCC) and IBC." Note that this is not open to public consultation nor does it consider the effect it will have on other junctions - and money is not mentioned! "The operational management plan shall include car park management. ... and paid public short stay use of the car park ... " "The net retail trading area shall not exceed 7282m2. No more than 2913m2 shall be used for the sale of comparison goods items"- i.e. non-food items.

John Lewis and Waitrose. The John Lewis Partnership's agents have made a pre-application presentation about their current views on Ipswich. They propose two stores on the old Crane's site (photo below) in Nacton Road: one a large Waitrose food store and the other a John Lewis At Home store. These types of JL stores are smaller and do not have clothes but do have a range of electricals and furnishings, as well as computer terminals where the full range can be easily browsed and ordered for next day collection and delivery. They are sited to be near trunk routes and would suggest fewer trips to Bluewater and other JL stores. The Society is making no response until we see the Planning Application. John Lewis Partnership is also negotiating with IBC for the insertion of a Waitrose Express into part of the Corn Exchange, utilising Gatsby's and part of the Robert Cross Hall. There have been no official announcements by the beginning of March.

Charging for informal advice from planning officers. It has been agreed by the Planning and Development Committee and the Executive Committee of IBC that for a trial period of twelve months a fee of 10% of the application fee should be charged for pre-application informal advice. Consultation took place with seventeen of last year's largest agents who agreed, as they will merely pass the fee on to their client. It will increase IBC's income by about £20,000 per annum. It will not apply to householder applications. The Society hopes it will not reduce the amount of pre-application consultation.

We shall be commenting on three planning briefs - Ravenswood, Yarmouth Road, Colchester Road Fire Station. We have also agreed to speak at the Inquiry into Local Development Frameworks.

Stop Press: On 7 March the Planning Inspectorate told us they have confirmed the Orders for Rights of Way along the Waterfront and from Dock Street along New Cut West to Griffin Wharf, but refused to confirm the Order for a Right of Way from Foundry Lane along New Cut East across the lock to Ship Launch Road. This route across the Island was the one the objectors were keenest to see confirmed: the Society and the Ipswich Maritime Trust are most disappointed. The Inspector's reasons were embedded in complex legal issues but he concludes that the access which we showed to have been established was permissive by the owners rather than as of right. The only way forward would be by Judicial Review which is difficult and expensive. I will give a further report in the next Newsletter.


70 Fore Street - alterations and extension to create a micro-brewery at Isaacs. The Society is excited by the concept of creating a micro-brewery (visitor attraction) on the Waterfront. We welcome the conversion of the former Lloyds Bank building (photo below) into what could become an outstanding and iconic building amongst the merchants' houses of Fore Street. And here we need to be careful. Fore Street (the fore-most street in Ipswich) retains, despite many unfortunate demolitions, very many fine old buildings. Number 70 is not amongst them; it offers no architectural merit and does little to improve the street scene. It is because of the presence of the numerous Listed buildings that this conversion needs to work and work well. Attention to detail, understanding of the architectural and construction requirements and a flair for distinctiveness are essential requirements of the design team.

For example a clear decision should be taken on the appearance of the finished building and the style ... and we believe the current designer is thinking towards one with a vertical emphasis. If this is the intention we consider that well executed. It could sit comfortably alongside the merchant's house adjacent providing that the vertical lines are prominent, notably in the faceted glass wall and the two storey window fronting Fore Street. (This is not the case in the current proposals.)

The proposed curved 'brewhouse' that follows the line of Salthouse Street is an inspiration and will become a leading feature of the building. As such it needs architectural quality design and detailing ... The view down Fore Street (a major walking route to the Waterfront and University) will be dominated by the front elevation of the proposed extension. In our opinion this has the potential to make a major contribution (and improvement) to this street scene - but only if the balance between glass wall and roof is correct, and only if the contractor understands the significance of creating an iconic building on this prominent corner and only if the colour and patina of the materials is in harmony ....


    Front cover of issue 183 Cover, issue 183

Back to top