A decision on plans to transform the top floors of an Ipswich shopping centre into 26 new flats has been delayed.

The plans were submitted by the owners of Sailmakers shopping centre, in Tavern Street, and aim to convert the building’s first and second floors for residential use.

If approved, the building would see 14 one-bed flats, six two-bed flats, and six studio flats spread across both floors.

The flats would follow the same layout as each other, with a hallway off the communal corridor with cupboard space, a shower room, bedroom space, and open plan kitchen, dining and living room.

One of the studio flats on the second floor would have a private balcony on the south side, overlooking the street.

On Wednesday, February 7, members of Ipswich’s planning and development committee agreed to delay the final decision in order to visit the site.

The application has received criticism in the past few days, with a late objecting representation arguing the space should be used to house new businesses rather than flats.

However, officers have said the proposal would not affect any of the existing retail space within the shopping centre, and added both floors would just remain empty if the development did not get a final go-ahead.

Ipswich Star: Cllr Ian FisherCllr Ian Fisher (Image: Archant)

Some concerns were also raised by Cllr Ian Fisher, who questioned the need for the development given the council’s ability to demonstrate a five-year housing supply, particularly as the development would not warrant section 106 contributions.

This is because the expected profitability of the development would not meet the 15% profit margin liable to contributions — meaning the nearly £400,000 the site would have normally warranted for libraries, waste, and school improvements would not be required.

Nevertheless, the council report points out that there is no barrier to the overprovision of housing beyond the supply requirements and that just over £3,000 in RAMS contributions, a legislative requirement, have already been paid.

Once the site visit is complete, committee members will be asked to give a final decision.