Public inquiry call over Notcutt's

PROTESTERS today called for an independent inquiry to be held in to controversial proposals for a £5 million redevelopment of a garden centre.Objectors spoke of their worries over what they fear will be an alarming increase in traffic and road danger, and the loss of spectacular views of one of the country's finest church towers.

PROTESTERS today called for an independent inquiry to be held in to controversial proposals for a £5 million redevelopment of a garden centre.

Objectors spoke of their worries over what they fear will be an alarming increase in traffic and road danger, and the loss of spectacular views of one of the country's finest church towers.

As revealed in last night's Evening Star, planners are recommending the go-ahead for the scheme to double the size of Notcutt's garden centre, provide a new medical centre and HQ for the primary care trust, 70 sheltered homes for the elderly, and 28 flats, one-third of them affordable housing.

The project has split the historic riverside town and generated more than 850 letters and comments.

Tony Hubbard, chairman of the Woodbridge Society, said he was disappointed with the report from Suffolk Coastal council and felt an independent inquiry would be the best way to resolve the matter.

The society accepted sites should be developed but was keen to protect the town and its character, while the Notcutt's plan would introduce urbanisation.

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It was a very important site in the town and the scheme was clearly against policy set by Suffolk Coastal.

"The lovely views across to the church, which everyone arriving in Woodbridge from Ipswich Road enjoy so much, will be destroyed - those views are very special to Woodbridge and few towns have such vistas," he said.

"We are also very concerned about potential highway problems. The increase in traffic to use the garden centre, medical centre and homes could be quite alarming.

"This is such an important site that I believe an independent inquiry should be held which would allow everyone to put their views and a solution to be found rather than the town having this thrust upon us."

Those in favour of the revamp of the 15-acre site say it will provide a modern medical facility for the town with good access for the elderly and disabled, and much-needed sheltered housing.

It will also improve traffic safety on Ipswich Road with traffic calming and a roundabout, plus provide a better garden centre with 22 new jobs, and enhance the whole area.

Supporters say the needs of 10,000 patients of the Framfield House Surgery "must justify an exception to the Local Plan rather than risk the loss of a substantial portion of the medical services in the town when the present premises become unworkable and probably unlawful".

The council's development control sub committee is recommended to agree the scheme on December 9 with officers authorised to negotiate changes to roads, car parks, housing layouts and possibly even a reduction in homes.

What do you think of the project? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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