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Listed Buildings
of Ipswich Willis Building (Grade I)

Newsletter, October 2011 (Issue 185)

Planning Matters & Waitrose

Waitrose in the Corn Exchange
"The Ipswich Society supports the change of use ... We do however have major reservations with this application and feel strongly that it should be refused in its current form. The Corn Exchange/Town Hall is the major civic building of our town and is Grade II Listed. For the last forty years it has been given over to cultural activities and is thus an icon to many of our citizens. By a large majority they support the concept of a small Waitrose in the Corn Exchange but feel that the proposals implode on to the historic building and the activities which take place in it. Furthermore at no time have the users been properly consulted as to how the building could be utilised .... The following parts of the application The Ipswich Society finds unacceptable as published and need to be changed.

Currently the windows on to Princes Street and King Street are clear glazed but the lower portion is used to advertise events in the Corn Exchange, Regent and Film Theatre. Assuming that the posters are successful in attracting customers, both mc and the Film Theatre Trust will lose some revenue. They are to be replaced by vinyls in every window and made obscure by plasterboard. This is an unpleasant interference with a Listed building.
Robert Cross Hall
There seems to have been no thought given to the users of the western half of the Hall. Their breakout area is lost, the bar is lost, the kiosk is lost and the access to the toilets is via a crooked two metre wide corridor. There is, we feel sure, sufficient space to provide a satisfactory solution to all users but not enough top class architectural thought has been given to seeking this out.
Film Theatre
This is the time to revise the Film Theatre box office and foyer with the aid of a contribution from Waitrose, whose aspirations the Council is so strongly supporting. There are also concerns over the safety of the fire exits from the two cinemas when the works are complete. More importantly, Waitrose tramping and trolleying must not disturb the cinemas; a condition of satisfactory sound attenuation must be in the conditions. There must also be consideration of construction noise and its timing, particularly during the building of the steps to the new entrance (in Princes Street)." Subsequently we learned that only minor changes in the plans were proposed and some reassurances given.

Planning permission was granted on 7 September. No one opposed the principle of this application although the Society, Ipswich Arts Association and Ipswich Film Theatre Trust spoke strongly of their objections to the signage, the removal of advertising space for events in the Corn Exchange and their concerns about noise, deliveries, fire exits and waste management. As a result conditions and management plans will be set to deal with most of the problems, although the window vinyls will be installed.

A 10mm thick noise reducing panel will be laid over the whole floor. And it is said there is no reason why construction should interfere with Film Theatre showings.

It was suggested that a dialogue should be started with Waitrose; to that end I am proposing that the Chairs of the Arts Association, Film Theatre Trust and our Society should write a joint letter to Waitrose, not their planning consultants, to have a meeting to discuss specific problems.

Some notes on other planning issues.

John Lewis at Home and Waitrose, Crane's site, Nacton Road
Historically this is the most significant application for some years. The site is large, some 44 acres earmarked for manufacturing or industrial use. A change of use to retail will mean the end of any hope of large scale industrial activity in the town. That apart, the town centre has two very large empty spaces which have retail consent (the Westgate/former Civic Centre and the Mint Quarter). But the John Lewis Partnership does not consider them appropriate because they are too far away from major roads.

Gippeswyk Hall
There are exciting plans or the demolition of a 1960s shed for a new barn-shaped studio in the garden of this Grade II* early 17th century building for Red Rose Chain. These plans will be commented on in depth later.

Hare and Hounds, Norwich Road
The former pub has been bought by Coe's and will be used as their bridal shop.

Proposed children's home at Thurleston cricket centre
The design of this is Neanderthal, uninviting and most unsuitable for an institution such as this. It's a good idea in the right spot but a clear case of "Get a better architect." [IBC has refused permission - poor design.]

First Floor Club, Tacket Street
An application was made to open a pole- and lap-dancing club. Many objections were raised and a long well argued case by the police led to the application being withdrawn.

Mike Cook

    Front cover of issue 185 Cover, issue 185

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