Fire HQ gets go ahead

A CONTROVERSIAL new headquarters fire station for Ipswich has been given the go-ahead by county chiefs.Proposals for a new building on the site of the existing station in Colchester Road were rubber-stamped by county council planners despite strong objections from Ipswich Borough Council.

A CONTROVERSIAL new headquarters fire station for Ipswich has been given the go-ahead by county chiefs.

Proposals for a new building on the site of the existing station in Colchester Road were rubber-stamped by county council planners despite strong objections from Ipswich Borough Council.

As reported in The Evening Star back in May, the row between the two authorities sent costs for the building soaring by £400,000.

Despite not having the final say so, borough council planners refused to back the scheme claiming designs were “bland” and “utilitarian”.

Talks between the two authorities led to fresh plans being submitted but these were once again rejected.

However, instead of re-jigging the design once more, Suffolk County Council has ignored the borough council's concerns and given the building the green-light.

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Joanna Spicer, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for public protection, said: “We made some changes to the plans but not all the changes the borough council wanted because it would have cost an extra £250,000.

“At the end of the day it's a fire station and there is a limit to how much money we could spend.

“Planning permission has now been granted.”

John Cooper, chairman of Ipswich Borough Council's development control committee, said he was “disappointed” with the county council's decision to give the plans a green light.

He said: “I think this is something we probably expected because we have come across this sort of problem between the county and the borough on other occasions.

“I'm disappointed and just feel sorry the county don't feel they have the same standards in Ipswich as we do locally.”

Construction of the new fire station is on hold while the county council seeks the all-clear from government to fund it through a private finance initiative (PFI) deal.

Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether provision will be made for a control room in the new building or if temporary premises will be set up.

Under government plans all regional control rooms will be merged together in four years time at a new building in Cambridge currently under construction.

As a result of the shake-up a total of 26 jobs will move from the town, although Suffolk County Council says existing employers will be offered the opportunity to work at the new regional control centre.

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