Ipswich shops to be demolished for 15 new homes
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A parade of derelict shops in Ipswich will be transformed into 15 new affordable homes, after planning approval was granted on Wednesday morning.
Plans submitted by Orwell Housing and approved by Ipswich Borough Council's planning committee proposed to demolish the three empty stores - including a former Co-op store - in Prince of Wales Drive to create 15 affordable homes: 11 two-storey houses and four flats.
Planning officers said the last known occupation of any of those stores was in 2018, and with other shops within walking distance, it was not felt that the loss of these former retail units would be detrimental to the area.
Proposals had originally been for 18 affordable homes, but this was revised down to 15 when the plans for the block of flats was scaled down from three-storeys to two.
The application received 52 objections from members of the public, with concerns over overlooking of gardens because of the sloped nature of the site, impact on the character of the area and concerns about loss of parking which has been regularly used by parents dropping off and picking up pupils from Halifax Primary School opposite.
However, while councillors said that there was a need to be sympathetic to those concerns, the land was not a designated public car park.
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Councillor Carole Jones said: "What we have got at the moment is a site becoming derelict. I welcome this, although I think it's not a straightforward application."
Greg Dodds from Orwell Housing said the land was allocated for housing in the emerging local plan, and said that "suitable marketing exercises proved there is no viable demand for the existing retail units".
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He added: "The affordable housing demands in the town are high, and housing associations are part of that solution. This scheme will provide further rented and shared ownership homes."
Finance from Homes England is in place for the development, the meeting heard.
Ward councillor Bryony Rudkin said she welcomed affordable housing in the town but there were very real worries from those living nearby about potential overlooking.
She added that the current parking issues were "exceptionally difficult" and added: "Residents have stressed to me how important the shops were to them in the past - it's important that we do appreciate that local shopping centres are valued."
Work is expected to begin on site later this year.