Revamp on hold for town centre site

DOUBT has been cast over the future of a multi-million pound development earmarked for a dilapidated site on the fringes of Ipswich town centre, it emerged today.

DOUBT has been cast over the future of a multi-million pound development earmarked for a dilapidated site on the fringes of Ipswich town centre, it emerged today.

Borough council planning officers had recommended St George's House - which would be built in St Matthew's Street between Berners Street and St George's Street - be given the go ahead by councillors.

But the scheme has been deferred after neighbours voiced a raft of concerns.

The group, led by Berners Street resident Charles Curry-Hyde, are principally unhappy with the scale of the development, which would be six storeys in height, therefore dwarfing the neighbouring two or three-storey properties.

They are also concerned over what they perceive to have been a lack of consultation over the plans, fears over the impact of increased traffic and the design of the new structure.

Mr Curry-Hyde said: “We are very pleased that this site is being developed, as it is such an eyesore.

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“We hope that in the desire to make redevelopment viable the council does not approve a much larger eyesore.”

A council spokesman said the planning application had been deferred pending a site visit. A date has still to be set for the visit.

The development has been planned to replace the 1960s building that currently houses, among other businesses, Blockbuster DVD rental and the British Heart Foundation shop.

The plans include a 125-room budget-style hotel, ground-floor shops and very sheltered accommodation for frail people, enabling them to live near the heart of the town.

It is being promoted by a group of investors who have formed St George's House LLB.

Ward councillor Carole Jones said the site was hugely important but criticised the proposed design.

She said the design needed to lift the area and added: “This design is ugly and dark and dull - it would depress the area rather than improve it. Also, there were serious highways problems which have not been resolved.

“I hope the applicants will do some real consultation with local residents and the Council's planners, and come back with a much better plan.”

Should the proposals be scrapped? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk