Residents fear for homes in shop revamp
RESIDENTS living above Stoke Park shops are fearing for their future today after it was revealed the centre could be bulldozed and revamped.A planning application to redevelop the shopping centre is expected to be submitted to Ipswich council before Christmas.
RESIDENTS living above Stoke Park shops are fearing for their future today after it was revealed the centre could be bulldozed and revamped.
A planning application to redevelop the shopping centre is expected to be submitted to Ipswich council before Christmas.
But while the plans are being heralded as a boost to the area, those living above the shops claim they have not been kept informed as to where they will be going.
New houses and flats have been included in the proposals but residents have not been told whether they will be placed in those or not.
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Around 20 people live at the centre and while labour councillor for Stoke Park, Roger Fern said that he was keen to ensure the residents were looked after he said that it should be involved in the next stage of the plans.
He said:"I do not know what will happen and think that will be part of stage two. In stage one they will agree the outline plan.
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"I have spoken to two of the residents and all I was able to say was that from the outset it has been made clear that they should be properly looked after. Unfortunately they are stuck right in the middle."
One resident, who wished to remain nameless said: "I am concerned about losing my home.
"They haven't said anything to anyone up here.
"What will happen to us? Your guess is as good as mine.
"We won't be able to move into the new flats because they won't be ready in time.
He feels that although something now needs to be done to the shopping centre, the possible scale of redevelopment is too great.
The site is classified as a district shopping centre in the Local Plan which in planning terms means about 20 shops.
Christine Storey, who also lives above the shops, said she was also unaware of the latest developments.
She said: "I am a bit worried because I don't know where I am going. Will the residents get the first go at flats and houses here?
"I work in McColls and it would be ideal if I could stay here."
Mrs Storey works unsociable hours and would find it difficult to travel to her job because she does not drive and would have to rely on taxis. Although she has been offered an alternative she claims it was too far away.
The plans for the centre are likely to follow a similar structure to proposals drafted by Ipswich council in February which suggested shops were built facing on to the street in a bid to attract additional business to the centre.
The owner and architects have now met with planning officials to discuss their plans for the site and Mr Fern said that planning officers have suggested more houses were needed.
He added that a medium well-sized retailer was keen to become the anchor at the centre but because of commercial sensitivity the name could not be revealed.
A number of parties are interested in the site so it is not confirmed who will make the application.
If an application is submitted by Christmas it will take two or three months to go through. If accepted bulldozers could then move in.
Richard Kirby, chairman of Stoke Park Residents' Association and Labour councillor for nearby Sprites ward, said: "This is excellent news. Our residents' association would welcome almost anything and, as a member of the council, I would welcome anything that would benefit the community and put the centre right."
Paul West, Conservative councillor for Stoke Park, also welcomed the news.
He said: "It sounds encouraging but I won't hold my breath just yet as we have had a few false storms before. I want to see action on the ground to get this moving."
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