41.1 3 Questions had been received prior to the meeting and as always if a question was submitted by the Tuesday at 10.00am, 2 days prior to the meeting then it would receive a full response from Officers:-
Is the restriction of only allowing leisure activities in the town centre unsupportive of the social needs of the residents?
The main thrust of the Council’s adopted Local Plan, in line with national guidance, was to achieve sustainable forms of development. As such, new employment, retail and leisure uses were focused on being located within the town centre, where the accessibility was at its greatest. However, this policy does not mean that leisure uses could only be situated within the town centre, as all applications were considered against the provisions of the development plan unless material considerations dictated otherwise. Material considerations could be wide ranging, but would generally incorporate social, environmental or economic benefits that were considered to outweigh the policy restrictions. Therefore leisure uses were not restricted to the town centre, where sufficient justification was advanced and accepted.
How does the Council propose to enable activity based enterprises to locate affordable activities within their reach?
Private activity based activities were market driven and the local planning authority would consider any planning application for such on merit. As highlighted within the response to Q1, the town centre first approach would be applicable.
Why is the Council pursuing a plan (within the Borough Development Plan) of siting activities in the town centre that does not have the appropriate type of spaces needed for their safe operation as well as setting up financial barriers?
It was not clear what was meant by this question. Notwithstanding, land allocation was subject to numerous criteria, including need, accessibility, and deliverability. As such, matters such as sustainability and viability were considered within the local plan process in demonstrating that a land allocation was deliverable. Only sites that meet the relevant criteria would succeed in being formally allocated with the local plan adoption process, which of course, was subject to full public consultation.
Furthermore, it was the responsibility of any applicant that any development met appropriate Health and Safety legislation or the relevant sport’s governing body criteria to ensure that it could operate in a safe way. As regards financial barriers it was dependent on the company’s business model to ensure that they were able to offer facilities / activities at a competitive market rate to ensure that the business was both viable and sustainable.
41.2 A resident who had attended the drop-in session about the temporary housing unit asked how the costs of the unit had increased following the initial reported costs and Councillor MacDonald confirmed that the original cost had been an allocation included in the council’s budget at a very early stage so it was an estimate but an approximate guide was that the final figure would be in the region of £1.9m. The estimate had been put together when the building had been bought and since then the cost of building works had increased by 10% and building regulations had also changed so this required extra money.
41.3 The resident asked whether homeless families from outside Ipswich were taken in by IBC and Councillor MacDonald confirmed that IBC do accommodate other Council’s applicants in Ipswich by placing them into privately owned bed and breakfast establishments which were in IBC’s control. The Council do not accommodate homeless households from outside of the area in its Council run accommodation. The resident asked whether there would be any single homeless persons in the unit and it was confirmed that there would be but IBC worked closely with other agencies and a safeguarding process would be in place. All individuals would be known to pose no threat as they would either be evictees with rent arrears or from private households.
41.4 The resident asked why it was such a big unit was planned as it could become an institution. Councillor MacDonald said that the average stay would be 14 weeks. The resident asked whether the money could have been used more effectively as it could be a magnet for those who wanted to exploit the homeless. Councillor MacDonald said that there were other facilities in Lattice Avenue, Felixstowe Road and in the south of Ipswich where no problems had been experienced.
41.5 Discussion took place about the layout inside the House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) in Orwell Road in respect of sprinklers, fire exit signs and fire doors. It was asked whether the roof spaces constituted a fire risk as due to parking issues, fire engines or ambulances would not be able to access in the case of an emergency. A resident considered that the occupancy rate for the house had been exceeded, vermin could be present and anti-social behaviour had been witnessed. The Head of Development as the Lead Officer agreed to look into this.
41.6 A resident said that the Crown Street car park was a successful achievement for Ipswich and signs advertising car park availability would be useful. Councillor Ross said that at the moment a soft launch had been initiated until some issues had been corrected (with 40-50% volume midweek and full capacity at weekends) and signage was the responsibility of Suffolk County Council.
41.7 A resident asked about the recent opening of a shop called the Cannabis Lounge in Ipswich. Councillor Darwin said that the Police were aware that the shop was selling legal CPD oil products which were not psychoactive.
41.8 A resident asked whether there had been any increase in drug usage or dealing in Shetland Close or the Dumbarton Road area. The Police said that statistics had not shown this area as a problem and Councillor Ross said that from the monitoring of drug paraphernalia, very few drug usage incidents occurred in the North East area. However, enforcement work was ongoing by the Police under the County Lines initiative. If any drug dealing was witnessed or drug paraphernalia found then these incidents should be reported to the Police.