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Stowmarket: Hotel and homes to regenerate “key” town site

06:00 14 August 2014

An artist

An artist's impression of what the cafe would look like as part of the Prentice Road development in Stowmarket

Archant

Proposals to build a hotel and more than 30 homes, described as a “catalyst for regeneration” in Stowmarket, were approved yesterday.

Planning permission for the complex on land off Prentice Road, near the town’s railway station, was supported by Mid Suffolk District Council.

The site is one of three “key” areas the council wants companies to invest in and help regenerate parts of the town.

Dave Benham, Mid Suffolk’s corporate manager for economic development and tourism, said: “This proposal will bring in the railway station into the town centre with an attractive development which is going to be a catalyst for regeneration for the whole area.

“Stowmarket is growing rapidly – figures suggest four times that of market towns in the country. One reason it’s growing so quickly is it’s a very commutable town, has a good railway station and is next to the A14.”

Outline proposals for a 55-bedroom hotel and full permission for 33 homes, including houses and flats as well as a cafe, were part of the overall application.

He described the development around the station to be “very piecemeal” over the years – adding that previous plans to build large retail warehouses would have resulted in a “missed opportunity” to link the town and the station.

The ward councillors, Lesley Mayes and Poppy Robinson, agreed with the proposals. Mrs Mayes said: “With regards to the hotel: Stowmarket is in desperate need of a nice hotel, a new hotel. We have a large number of big companies who at the moment take clients out of the town and we want to keep that economy in Stowmarket.”

Mrs Robinson added: “It’s a brilliant idea for the town and they have seemed to have dealt with all the problems with flooding and the footpath too.”

The development will be built on a “zone two” flooding area where homes are not normally allowed to be constructed. But measures, including a centralised pumping water feature and properties built to a higher level, are expected to combat the risk.

Cathy Wayman, a resident of nearby Wharfside House, objected to the proposals and said she spoke on behalf of her neighbours.

She said: “Do we need another hotel in Stowmarket? There are four in the vicinity, having spoken to Cedars (Hotel) they are less than 50% full all the year round. The homes will overlook our balconies, it’s a major invasion of our privacy and we’re not very happy about it.”

Philip Isbell, corporate manager for development management, admitted that some of the flats would be no more than 10metres from Wharfside House.

But he added the windows had been positioned “sideways” to try and avoid directly overviewing the balconies.

The proposals were unanimously approved by councillors.

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