Former Argos to become flats

The former Argos in Carr Street remains empty almost a year after its closure was announced - so wha

Plans for the flats have been given the go ahead. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Plans to convert the former Argos into 18 flats will go ahead. 

Proposals were lodged by HD Investments 18 (Ipswich) Ltd to convert a part of the ground floor and the second and third floors into homes, made up of one two-bed and 17 one-bedroom flats.

Ipswich Borough Council’s development control committee meeting discussed concerns over accessibility, as no flats were on the ground floor and no lift is planned.

None of the homes is designated affordable because it is the redevelopment of a brownfield site, and all the homes are flats.

Pamela Longhurst-Pierce, planning consultant on behalf of the developers, said the three-storey building had been vacant for a long time was in "urgent need of regeneration".

She told the meeting: “This application is of significant merit, namely a mixed use scheme which represents inward investment in the town which will help bring a long-standing vacant unit back into beneficial use.

“The scheme will provide additional homes within Ipswich, which is targeted for growth in the local plan.

“The proposal embodies Ipswich’s 15-minute town concept for city centre living to ensure people have around them all they need to live their lives locally.

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“The proposal will enable a prominent local building within the town centre to be re-used.”

Some of the ground floor will remain for retail use, it has been confirmed.

Cllr Oliver Holmes said it “on the face of it means people with mobility issues, disabled persons and elderly persons, may not be able to access those floors. We have a statutory duty to consider these points.”

Cllr Sam Murray added: “If there is space here and it is possible [to add a lift] I really think we should push this.”

A further condition was added to enhance accessibility measures, but didn’t make a lift mandatory.

The committee voted by seven votes to five in favour of approval with the added condition.

The plans include a £20,508 contribution to primary school provision, £34,536 towards a pre-school and £10,000 public open space commitment.

Original plans for 21 homes had proved to be unviable, according to developers, prompting plans to be revised down to 18 homes.

Ward councillor John Cook said: “Planning applications of this type which are going to bring back buildings into sensible use, which are clearly not going to be occupied to the same extent in the past for retail use, is highly desirable.”