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Second archaeological dig delays town centre housing development by a year

PUBLISHED: 11:30 03 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:35 03 February 2019

Work on the former Archant office site in Lower Brook Street has come to a halt. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Work on the former Archant office site in Lower Brook Street has come to a halt. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Archant

Major developments in Ipswich are being delayed – or even abandoned altogether – because of strict rules from Suffolk County Council’s team of archaeologists.

McCarthy & Stone are still committed to the development and it is hoped work will re-start in the early summer. Picture: PAUL GEATERMcCarthy & Stone are still committed to the development and it is hoped work will re-start in the early summer. Picture: PAUL GEATER

That’s the damning view of leading developer John Howard who has had to pay an extra £400,000 after the experts demanded a second dig at the former Archant site he is developing in Lower Brook Street.

That has delayed work on preparing a new development for sheltered housing providers McCarthy & Stone for a year – and yet Mr Howard said they had found “Diddly Squat.”

The developer bought the site, the former premises of the Ipswich Star and EADT, in 2016 and an archaeological dig was carried out before demolition began in early 2017. Little was found.

However during demolition a deeper hole had to be dug to remove material, and the archaeologists returned – delaying the project by at least a year.

John Howard is frustrated by the delays caused by archaelogical digs at development sites in Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNJohn Howard is frustrated by the delays caused by archaelogical digs at development sites in Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mr Howard said: “It’s cost me £400,000 and they’ve found diddly squat. They found one bit of a pot which they photographed and put it back for archaeologists to find in the future.

“If they’d asked me to give £200,000 to the museum it would have been better. Frankly the way this can happen is putting many people off developing in Ipswich – it’s why so many projects have difficulty in getting going.”

McCarthy & Stone had hoped the first residents would be able to move into the development of 51 flats and cottages with communal areas before the end of last year. But the company has said it remains committed to the project despite the delays.

Mr Howard hoped building work would now be able to begin in May or June this year once the investigations are complete.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “The role of Suffolk County Council’s archaeology team is to provide the planning authority, which in this case is Ipswich Council, with expert advice to ensure any development respects the local heritage in line with the National Planning Policy Guidance set by the government.

“Investigation of any site is undertaken by archaeological contractors directly employed by the developers and not by the council. We will always enable development, but we have a duty to ensure that archaeological remains are investigated and protected in line with national policy.”

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