Wildlife supreme at Waterfront gateway

NATURE is taking control in Ipswich's Waterfront today.The signs on the site of St Peter's Warehouse warn visitors to 'Keep Out' but nature is taking no notice and has firmly planted her roots.

NATURE'S awesome power is showing itself clearly today on a site ravaged by fire at the turn of the century.

Humans have kept out of the site of St Peter's Warehouse at the gateway to the Waterfront after it was destroyed by one of the largest blazes in Ipswich's history.

But wildlife has taken over from wildfire as the dominant feature on the site which was destroyed by the blaze in April 2000.

Now buddleia and lobelia bushes are providing homes for hundreds of butterflies.

Pigeons and songbirds are making their homes on the site. And it looks as if nature will continue to be the dominant element of this part of the Waterfront for the immediate future.

Because while elsewhere construction workers are creating a hive of activity, there is little hope of a quick start to work on the site.

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Although it does have planning permission for new flats there, the current owners are hoping to sell and are not planning to start any work themselves.

And the economics of the Waterfront have led experts to believe that no redevelopment will happen at the site until other projects like Regatta Wharf and The Mill are nearing completion.

Today plants are climbing the walls and sprouting yellow, white, red and purple flowers. No one is doing anything to the site because access to much of the area remains hazardous following the blaze.

A sign from Suffolk property agents, Peecock Short, on the side of the crumbling building shows full planning permission for 64 apartments and commercial floor space was granted earlier this year.

The owner, Beeston Developments, is now hoping the sell the site to a developer who will then take on the project to create three buildings of ten storeys, four storeys and two storeys each.

There will also be parking with vehicular access from Bridge Street.

A spokesman for Ipswich council said: “Planning permission has been granted however we do not expect work to start there in the near future.”

In the meantime however, before the site is sold and work finally begins, it is the buddleia plant that is triumphing.

The plant, which survived the fire, has so far stood its ground, ignoring all the litter and the graffiti and continuing to bloom.

And it is likely to remain there until work finally begins of the site, whenever that may be.

Are you pleased nature is making its mark? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

You can keep an eye on events at the Waterfront by visiting our webcam at www.eveningstar.co.uk

Waterfront redevelopment

n April 2000: St Peter's Warehouse - one of the must prominent buildings on the Waterfront - burned out.

n June 2000: Gables at the warehouse which were left exposed by the fire come crashing down.

n December 2002: Plans for the redevelopment of the nearby Cranfields site outlined - but no proposals to redevelop the warehouse.

n July 2004: Detailed planning permission for the new Cranfield's development, including 23-storey tower block, granted.

n September 2004: Paul's Albion Maltings further along the Waterfront closes, site sold to Essex-based Knight Developments. Still no sign of work at St Peter's warehouse - nature's grip strengthens as security fences keep people out of the site.

n April 2005: Proposals for the Albion Maltings site outlined, including new theatre for the Red Rose chain and a 15-storey block of flats.

n September 2005: Planning permission granted for Knight Developments' proposal.

n January 2006: Demolition of both Albion Maltings site and Cranfield's site gets under way.

n Early 2007: Work starts on the Albion Maltings site, now renamed Regatta Quay by new owners City Living, and preparation work underway at The Mill. St Peter's Warehouse remains an empty site where nature is now the big winner.

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