Riverside development thrown out

CONTROVERSIAL multi-million pound plans to regenerate Woodbridge's historic riverside have been slammed because they would make the waterfront look like London's docklands.

By Richard Cornwell

CONTROVERSIAL multi-million pound plans to regenerate Woodbridge's historic riverside have been slammed because they would make the waterfront look like London's docklands.

The project was branded "totally inappropriate" by councillors, who feared it would harm the setting of the world famous Tide Mill on the River Deben.

Councillors could see no merit in the scheme at all and threw it out with little discussion – leaving the developers Michael Howard Homes to go back to the drawing board.

Suffolk Coastal's south area development control sub committee was told the scheme for 13 homes in three and four-storey buildings, plus 1,238 sq metres of offices, would – in the developers' opinion – enhance and regenerate the quay.

It would make good use of urban land, provide new jobs and commercial investment. Although the site – Whisstocks boatyard in Tide Mill Way – was identified for industry, some homes were needed to make the scheme viable.

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But councillor Nigel Barratt said the scheme "looks more like a London docklands development" and it was inappropriate.

"It's just not suitable for what is a key part of the river frontage of Woodbridge and which has been in continuous use for marine purposes for over 200 years," he said.

Councillor Russell Geen, Woodbridge born and bred, said some new use of the site, which would provide employment and tidy it, needed to be found but this scheme was not the one.

Sub committee chairman John Richardson said: "I hate putting wet blankets on initiative but I think this one goes a bit too far."

Officers, who are currently drawing up a design brief for the land to indicate what might be acceptable on it, said the proposed development was against policy and would seriously erode the character of the town.

The buildings, which would appear as Georgian and Victorian brick warehouses, were totally inappropriate and a pastiche, and would be so enormous and dominate the area of the Tide Mill, a grade one listed building.

There were objections, too, from Woodbridge Town Council, English Heritage, National Trust, Woodbridge Society, Suffolk Preservation Society, and nearly 30 residents.

Criticisms from these included that it would mean the destruction of a "familiar and cherished local scene", while the designs of the homes did not reflect the town's history and were bogus, oversized, pretentious and more reminiscent of industrial and port activity at Neptune Quay, Ipswich.

The project would be very visible from the National Trust's new Sutton Hoo tourist attraction and the trust said the buildings would harm the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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