St Georges House (2008)

Status: Refused permission
Type: Hotel/residential/retail
Year: 2008
Developer: St Georges House LLP
Price: Unknown

This large, ‘high quality’ 6 storey mixed use development located on St Matthews Street was designed as the Western Gateway to the town centre, as well as being a kickstarter to the regeneration of the area including the nearby ‘Westgate Quarter’. The building design consisted of two distinctly separate ‘wings’.

The western wing, which fronts the roundabout, consisted of 46 units of Very Sheltered Housing (VSH) while the eastern wing is a 125 bed hotel. The ground floor of the building would include a large retail unit that could be subdivided as well a large food retail store. The site would also include 29 dedicated car parking space, most likely for staff and the hotel only.

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Ground floor plan

The development would also see the construction of a new private road that would connect Berners Street to St George’s Street where the parking would be located. It would also act as a boundary to the residential housing along Bedford Street.

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Looking east along Norwich Road

Both sections of the building consist of very different designs. The residential block has a very symmetric facade acting as the ‘gateway’ to the town centre. While the hotel would have a large glass atrium and pillars supporting the overhang and was to be clad in red while the residential block consisted of orange cladding and floor to ceiling glazing. The top floor of the residential block is set back to reduce intrusion onto the streetscape.

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However, this project was unanimously rejected by the planning committee and local organisations. The main reason, among a number, was that the residential block was too large and imposing on the local area. The 6 storey design would have to be lowered to five storeys, inline with the hotel before a new planning application could be submitted.

The reasons are listed as:

The height and mass of the building would not be in scale with adjoining buildings and thearea as a whole and thus contrary to Ipswich Local Plan Policy BE34, to the detriment of visual amenities of nearby heritage streets.

The design of the Sheltered housing comprises a number of disparate elements which it is considered do not combine to form a coherent, legible distinctive composition with an attractive identity, contrary to Ipswich Local Plan
Policy BE1.

The proposed sheltered housing would front a noisy class A ring road where
the external amenity areas are likely to exceed relevant criteria this would be detrimental to residential amenities contrary to Ipswich Local Plan Policies NE20 and BE7(d).

The development would incorporate little space for soft landscaping and ground level amenity space contrary to Ipswich Local Plan Policy NE6.

The development would result in service vehicles leaving the site onto a one way ring road which would increase congestion in Air Quality Management Areas to the detriment of the environment and contrary to Ipswich Local Plan Policies NE20 and T20.

Finally, the development would reduce pavement width for pedestrians thus reducing accessibility contrary to Ipswich Local Plan Policy T8.

Surely it would be better to compromise and allow for a construction of a high quality development to quick start regeneration in a dilapidated part of town. No?

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View of hotel from Westgate Street

A new design was submitted in 2009 with a completely different design for the residential block. A bland, generic, 5 storey block with an asymmetrical facade. Though accepted, that planning application lapsed and was extended in 2013.

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