Police centre set for approval

PROPOSALS for a new police investigation centre at the force's Martlesham headquarters are set to be approved - despite more than 300 protests from residents.

PROPOSALS for a new police investigation centre at the force's Martlesham headquarters are set to be approved - despite more than 300 protests from residents.

The custody suite for dealing with people arrested in connection with crime will feature 36 cells and serve the Ipswich area.

Earlier in the year, councillors were not happy with the plan - although the project was acceptable in principle, they were concerned at the size of the building and the loss of trees which would harm the area's character.

Now Suffolk Police have made changes to the design and setting and Suffolk Coastal's south area development control sub committee is being recommended to give the go-ahead on Thursday .

Residents' biggest fear is detainees released from the unit being left to wander Martlesham Heath, Old Martlesham and Kesgrave.

“The potential to release serious offenders directly into a peaceful community with many young families is wholly unacceptable,” said one letter signed by a large number of residents.

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Changes to the scheme include demolishing part of an existing office building serving vehicle repair workshops to allow the investigation centre to be sited in a slightly different position further into the main site.

The access road has been changed and car parking moved.

It will mean all trees between the building and southern boundary being retained and a woodland belt at least 19m wide.

“Although this will incur considerable cost for the Police Authority, it hopefully demonstrates our willingness to respond to both public opinion and the planning council's concerns,” said the police.

Suffolk Coastal case officer Martin Price said “Despite the beliefs expressed by many of the objectors, this planning application does not propose a prison, nor is there any reason to believe that the proposed facilities are to be used for longer-stay detainees.

“The police have made it clear that in many instances those that are being interviewed will not be guilty of any offence.”

Is Martlesham suitable for the centre? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk