No Ipswich identity to Henley Gate homes designs, say councillors

Crest Nicholson signs

Crest Nicholson is behind 1,100 homes on the Ipswich garden suburb, known as Henley Gate - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Designs for the first phase of a flagship 1,100-home Ipswich development have been described as "picked out of a catalogue" and "Stepford Wives" by councillors.

Ipswich Borough Council's planning committee on Wednesday granted delegated approval to the head of development for the first 130 homes of Crest Nicholson's 1,100 home portion (Henley Gate) of the Ipswich Garden Suburb development, as well as key infrastructure around primary roads, landscaping, drainage and open space.

But councillors were not impressed by the design of the homes.

Ipswich borough councillor Adam Rae said the work to St Margaret's Church boundary wall needed to be

Ipswich borough councillor Adam Rae said the work to St Margaret's Church boundary wall needed to begin as quickly as possible. Picture: DAVID GARRAD - Credit: DAVID GARRAD

Councillor Adam Rae said that the authority "clearly need more housing" but "with one or two exceptions it looks like two-to-three standard design houses picked out of a catalogue".

Councillor Sam Murray said: "The first thing I thought when I saw these were Stepford Wives, everything looks the same. I don't see an Ipswich identity to this."

Other concerns included the lack of swift boxes, small numbers of renewable energy options on the homes, just seven of the 130 being designated affordable, and questions over the drainage arrangements.

Despite the fears, councillors recognised there was a shortage of homes in Ipswich and the site was in the allocated sites for development.

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Agent for Crest Nicholson, Sarah Cottingham, said there were distinct areas, and would provide "a welcoming entrance into the development".

She said the firm was "committed to delivering a high quality scheme that meets both the council's and Crest's aspirations," and said it was seen as "a flagship scheme".

The infrastructure works are considered vital as part of the first phase in order to help delivery of the later portions.

Rape survivor Sam Murray wants to change the culture around women's safety. Picture: Sarah Lucy Bro

Ipswich borough councillor Sam Murray raised fears the development may not be family-friendly - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Brian Samuel, representing the Northern Fringe Protection Group and Save Our Countryside Spaces, said the groups' primary concerns were "getting the right infrastructure at the right place at the right time".

He said the decision should not be made while the developers and Suffolk County Council were still ironing out drainage issues, and highlighted the the lack of options for renewable energy upgrades on homes and affordable housing numbers.

Delegated approval has been granted for the borough council's head of development to sign off once the final drainage issues have been sorted. Additional conditions mandating a swift box for every home and exploring options for buyers to pay for solar panels to be installed at the point of construction were also added.

The entire Garden Suburb development, which first became an option in the 1980s, will eventually see around 3,500 homes built alongside a country park.

Outline permission for 1,100 homes by Crest Nicholson and 815 by Mersea Homes have already been secured, and the country park must be delivered by the time homes are occupied.

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