Brewery homes plan branded unsafe

By Jonathan BarnesTHE future of one of the region's most historic buildings has been thrown into doubt over fears that converting it into flats would put prospective residents in danger.

By Jonathan Barnes

THE future of one of the region's most historic buildings has been thrown into doubt over fears that converting it into flats would put prospective residents in danger.

Developers want to turn the former Tolly Cobbold brewery, on the waterfront at Ipswich docks, into 26 apartments.

They are also hoping to demolish some of modern additions to the building to build 42 new flats in a series of blocks ranging from five to 11 storeys in Cliff Lane.


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The Cliff Quay brewery closed two years ago, ending more than 250 years of brewing in the town.

But the multi-million-pound blueprint for the grade II-listed building looks set to be rejected after planning officers at Ipswich Borough Council said residents should not be living so close to a "major hazard" site on the port.

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The new development would neighbour the Vopak terminal at Ipswich port, a key distribution site for oil and chemical products.

Vopak has strongly objected to the plan and the Health and Safety Executive has expressed serious concerns because of the potential risk to prospective residents.

It feared a major accident at the site, which holds a number of chemicals, could put the lives of nearby residents in danger.

The Health and Safety Executive said: "We accept that the scenarios on which we base our policy are, thankfully, of a low probability, but they are credible events, whether or not Vopak has a good safety record and they underlie our advice and our national policy to ensure that risks to the public are properly controlled."

Port manager, Robert Smith, also said the long-standing port operations at the terminal would be "less than ideal" neighbours for people living in the flats.

Planning officers have recommended councillors should reject the scheme at their meeting on Wednesday, "primarily on the basis of the advice of the Health and Safety Executive".

But consultants for the applicants, Tolly Cobbold and developer Langton Ltd, of Ipswich, said the Health and Safety Executive approach was "simplistic" and followed "overly-conservative national policy guidelines on the development".

The Health and Safety Executive rejected this and said there were "sufficient reasons, on health and safety grounds" for refusing the application.

Refusal of the plan would throw into doubt the future of the building, which dates back to the late 19th Century.

The brewery closed in 2002 when Suffolk brewer Tolly Cobbold merged with Essex firm TD Ridley and Sons.

Brewing by the Cobbold family at the site dates back to 1746, but the existing building was constructed between 1894 and 1904.

Family control of the business, which previously merged with the Tollemache brewing company, ceased in 1976 and a series of buyouts followed.

In 1990, a management buyout re-established the brewery on an independent basis and, two years later, the old brewery buildings were opened as a brewery museum.

Tolly Cobbold and Langton Ltd were both unavailable for comment last night.

jonathan.barnes@eadt.co.uk

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