Planners seek changes to Maltings scheme

PLANNERS are calling for changes to details of a major scheme at a landmark cultural site because of strong concern about the impact of proposed enabling development.

PLANNERS are calling for changes to details of a major scheme at a landmark cultural site because of strong concern about the impact of proposed enabling development.

Suffolk Coastal District Council planners say there are aspects of the detailed plans for the Snape Maltings site which “will be of detriment to the overall character of the complex” and which will need to be revised before the development can be favourably recommended.

Site owner Johnny Gooderham said they “fully expecting” any outstanding design issues to be resolved at a forthcoming meeting with planners.

The district council's development control sub-committee is due to consider on January 4 whether to give Listed Building consent for proposed internal and external alterations to the historic Listed buildings, many of which are in serious decline and on the Buildings at Risk Register.

The nine hectare site is the most visited tourist destination in Suffolk with half a million visitors a year, but while some of the Maltings buildings were converted into a concert hall for Aldeburgh Productions in the late 1960s and others converted to create a retail complex, 60% of the mainly 19th Century and early 20th Century buildings are in a state of serious disrepair or dereliction and an ambitious plan to save them was unveiled earlier this year.

Councillors have already agreed in principle to proposals to create a world-class music and arts campus, with heritage centre, retail and office space and enabling residential development after they were submitted by George Gooderham Investments Ltd and Aldeburgh Productions.

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The projected combined values of the 65 homes proposed, once built, would work out at more than £15 million, according to figures quoted in the report.

But some of the present proposed detail, which has still to be agreed, is causing concern.

English Heritage, while supportive of the proposed conversion project, has expressed strong reservations about a number of external alterations planned, and planners say there is “strong concern” about the impact that the enabling development would have upon the character of Snape Maltings.

While acknowledging that more windows and “significant” demolition was envisaged in the outline plans, planners say “the present level of change proposed, will in total, result in too great a domestic change to the site”.

They point out that deck areas and balconies are proposed in many locations, and are unhappy with “the sheer number, size and detailing of additional fenestration, balcony areas and the introduction of individual garden areas”.

“Whilst it is important that the proposed development does provide the finance to 'enable' the works to other buildings on the site/other site improvements, this cannot be at such expense to the character of the site,” they say.

They are also seeking clarity about the number of parking spaces proposed, and fear a reduction in what was outlined in the master plan.

Planners are asking for authority to determine the application, and refuse if negotiations do not result in “satisfactory improvements” to the scheme, or approve if negotiations are successful on areas of concern.

Mr Gooderham said they were “very happy” with the work the architects had done, and with English Heritage's input, and it was “just a case of dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's”.

“We are due for another meeting for which we are fully expecting any outstanding design issues to be resolved which will allow for the continuing development of this project for which the sole purpose is to secure the future of Snape Maltings,” he said.

“At the end of the day, if the issues centre around where windows pop in whatever we'll arrive at a point where everyone becomes happy with it.”