A controversial car wash at the heart of one of Ipswich's most historic areas has been ordered to close after losing a planning appeal.

The car wash has operated at St Margaret's Plain on temporary planning permission since 2012 when it was set up following the demolition of a Kwik-Fit garage there.

It had twice had permission to operate for five years and when the second period finished, its operators applied for a new temporary planning permission.

Despite advice from planning officers that it should continue, members of Ipswich council's planning and development committee rejected the application - prompting an appeal to the government's Planning Inspectorate.

The inspector said the main issue was that the use of the site for a car wash was out of character with the historic nature of the area. 

It is in front of St Margaret's Church, opposite the Manor Ballroom and beside the Masonic Hall.

There have been other proposals for the site over the years including a care home and a block of student flats - which was given planning permission several years ago.

Ipswich Star: Oliver Holmes welcomed the news that the planning permission would not be renewed.Oliver Holmes welcomed the news that the planning permission would not be renewed. (Image: Ipswich Borough Council)

But local councillor Oliver Holmes, who led the opposition to the granting of new planning permission, hoped it would now be left as an open space for the time being.

He said: “The site is in a very historic part of Ipswich and is surrounded by many listed buildings.

"To be frank, the car wash has been an eyesore for many years and I am delighted the planning inspector has agreed with the planning committee and rejected the owners request for another five-year temporary permission.

"The land should be used for housing and until a scheme comes forward, I would like to see it used as a green space benefiting St. Margaret’s residents.”

The site is operated by a company registered in the British Virgin Islands and operated from Cyprus. Its UK-based agent had said that the car wash was preferable to an empty site - but the planning inspector rejected this suggestion saying it was not suitable in such an historic area.