Should former Grimwades store on the Cornhill in Ipswich be transformed into a restaurant?
PUBLISHED: 09:56 12 October 2016 | UPDATED: 09:39 13 October 2016
A bid to turn the former Grimwades building on the Cornhill into a restaurant has suffered a major setback – because planners believe it would be better to keep it as a shop.
Losing a retail shop in the heart of Ipswich would be “unacceptably harmful” to the town centre’s “vitality and viability”, a new planning committee report said.
It comes amid multi-million pound plans to overhaul the Cornhill – famously branded a “barren wasteland” and “depressing” by former M&S boss Sir Stuart Rose in 2012. He called for it become a “wonderful piazza” with outdoor cafes.
There has been no permanent use for the building since Clinton Cards moved out in 2012. Various pop-up fashion and discount retailers have opened since then, but one of the town centre’s most prominent buildings faces an uncertain future.
An application has now been made to change the use of the building from retail to a restaurant.
But a council planning report states: “Given the importance of the Cornhill and the relationship with the town centre and its retail function, it is considered that the loss of retail frontage would be unacceptably harmful to the vitality and viability of the town centre.”
It recommended the refusal of planning permission, adding that retail shops “should remain the predominant use at all times”.
Ideas to overhaul the Cornhill generated more than 2,000 responses over the summer. The proposals are currently under review.
The report added: “In certain circumstances it is considered restaurant uses can sit comfortably amongst retail and aid in increasing time spent in the town centre. This is reflected in the recent permission at the Buttermarket.
“However this application is purely speculative, and provides little comfort that the site will be occupied by a single user.”
A decision will be made on Wednesday next week by Ipswich Borough Council’s (IBC) planning and development control committee. An IBC spokesman declined to comment.
But speaking in August, portfolio holder for planning at the borough, Carole Jones, said: “This is a very visible key site in the very heart of the town centre and we welcome in principle any bid to bring a high quality and permanent use here which could breathe new life into the Cornhill.”
The listed applicant, Euro Property Investments, did not comment.
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