Community's shops have a future

STOKE Park shops in Ipswich have a future.That is the verdict today as a period of public consultation draws to an end.In February, Ipswich council published a draft concept plan detailing the prospective fate of the precinct.

STOKE Park shops in Ipswich have a future.

That is the verdict today as a period of public consultation draws to an end.

In February, Ipswich council published a draft concept plan detailing the prospective fate of the precinct.

With three quarters of the shops on the site closed and the area falling into serious disrepair all parties agreed something must be done to salvage Stoke Park's centre.

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But rows had erupted over the possible size and use of the redesigned district shopping centre with petitions set up, leaflets dropped and a well attended public meeting.

Public consultation followed and according to planning officials and one Labour councillor, the response has been positive.

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Roger Fern, Labour councillor for Stoke Park said: "So far there have been over 50 individual and group responses. Almost all of them are very much in support of what is being put forward.

"This is extremely encouraging for those of us who have been working on it for 18 months or more."

Paul West, who is the Conservative candidate for the ward, has also expressed his commitment to the future of the site.

"The general consensus seems to be in favour of pulling down the site and redeveloping.

"There are issues on more detailed parts of the development such as the four or five storey houses which could overlook Malmesbury Close and Lanercost Way. There are also questions being asked to make sure there is sufficient access. One of the complaints about the new shops is that when you try to get in or out you have to do a five or six point turn."

The size of the future shopping precinct and the drainage in neighbouring streets is also of concern to some residents and will be discussed in more detail at later stages.

Steve Miller, planning officer for Ipswich council said: "We will be going to committee to get the draft concept plan agreed. That will start the ground work for any planning considerations.

"We hope that during that a developer will come along and express interest. The owners also have schemes for redevelopment.

"We have had a lot of public response and everyone has been in favour. This isn't surprising because the site is pretty bad at the moment."

The actual facilities which will be included when the bricks are eventually laid are still unknown but suggestions have included an extended doctors' surgery and a supermarket.

Mr Fern said: "Amongst the proposals, I am very pleased to support the Stoke Park Residents' Association recommendation that community facilities should be included, especially an expanded family health centre."

Mr Fern also said someone had expressed interest in opening a fish and chip shop on the site, adding: "All of this suggests that the centre has a future once it has been re-developed, both for homes and as a district shopping centre."

What do you think about the plans? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail or visit the forum at

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