A DEVELOPER behind an ambitious £8million regeneration of a derelict boatyard has assured the proposals will only be submitted once the highest standards of design have been met.

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Julian Wells of FW Properties said they were committed to ensuring the schemes for the Whisstock and Nunn’s Mill sites in Woodbridge were 100% right for the people of the town. His comments were made in response to criticisms of the proposed designs during recent public consultation.

Jay Merrick, the Suffolk-based architecture critic of the Independent, described the scheme as unrefined and “standard issue”.

“The specific character of key sites in Britain’s towns and cities are being stripped away by mediocre architecture, and the latest public consultation meeting for Whisstocks expressed this fear loud and clear,” he said. “We need mixed-use projects on difficult sites like this, and the site’s owners have no alternative but to fund the scheme. But it’s current design quality makes it seem like a clone commercial development that could be anywhere. The same criticism applies to the Nunn’s Mill proposal. Where is the vital extra layer of character in the design?

“The key will be to develop schemes whose form and fine detail respond to their sites in a characterful, but not overwhelming way. Indeed, the long term social and commercial values of the Whisstocks scheme will depend on the unmistakable quality of the design. If it’s a tick-box design, who will want to live there, or visit a museum there - and how will that affect the perception of the tide mill? But there are signs, thank heavens, that the developer has got the message.”

The proposed Whisstocks scheme is for four separate buildings – central to which would be a working boatshed in which it is envisaged an Anglo-Saxon ship could be built, an exact working replica of that discovered at nearby Sutton Hoo.

The project also features a heritage building for Woodbridge Museum and a community outdoor space that could be used all year round. There would also be room for a restaurant, a cafe, a bar and two shops along with 14 holiday homes on the upper levels of two of the buildings overlooking the estuary.

The boatshed and the heritage building would both be donated to the community by the developer and held in perpetuity by Woodbridge Town Council. The Nunn’s Mill site would include seven new town houses, four flats and two commercial units.

Mr Wells said they had received the message “loud and clear” and would now be working to refine the designs.

“That’s why the public consultation exercise has been so important,” he said. “We have been able to hear people’s concerns on some of the design aspects of the scheme and that’s exactly what we wanted.

“Now we will start to refine those designs for both sites and make sure they fit in with Woodbridge and Suffolk based concepts. That’s been our philosophy from the start and that will remain all the way through - we want this very much to be about the community.

“Through the consultation it appears the general principles of this development are acceptable, which is very pleasing. The task now is to improve on what we have and get it right. We will not submit a planning application for the sites until the schemes meet the mark and are right for the people of Woodbridge.”

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