Ipswich: Planning law must not be allowed to put a brake on town’s development

Shop to Let in Tacket Street, Ipswich

Shop to Let in Tacket Street, Ipswich - Credit: Archant

I am becoming increasingly concerned about a sense of inertia that is gripping the town – and the lack of a clear vision of how to move forward.

There is an exciting proposal to try to link the town centre and Waterfront, creating a genuinely exciting place to visit.

But while Ipswich Central and some organisations seem keen to push this vision, there seems to be a distinct lack of action from the body that really needs to get involved – the borough council.

And I’m really concerned that within the borough, especially the planning department, a worrying attitude seems to be developing.

Why on earth officers are objecting to a new café being created in part of the old Cash Converters store in Tacket Street totally baffles me.

If it increases the proportion of cafés above that which the government says is ideal, so what? Coffee shops are not exactly dens of iniquity – and many people would rather see them than more betting shops.

Why did planning officers object to the creation of new shops in Western House on Hadleigh Road? A decision that was overturned by elected members.

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To be fair sometimes they get things right – the decision to allow the conversion of much of the Buttermarket Centre into a cinema was right and should boost the town centre.

But surely if we are going to turn the town into a place that people want to visit that must be the norm.

The default in any planning application must be: “Is granting this permission going to be better than leaving the shop/bar/bank unit empty?” Empty units are a real blight on the town.