Plans finally lodged for 300 homes on Martlesham police HQ site – and when you can expect a decision
PUBLISHED: 05:30 04 March 2020 | UPDATED: 07:09 04 March 2020
Outline plans to build hundreds of homes on the police headquarters site in Martlesham have been submitted – but “nothing has been set in stone” according to the police and crime commissioner.
Suffolk PCC Tim Passmore has been assessing the value of the site off Portal Avenue, in a bid to find out whether it is more financially viable to sell the land and find an alternative police HQ or carry out the repairs needed to the existing facilities.
According to Mr Passmore, that maintenance backlog sits at around £4million.
It means that planning permission is needed for the site to obtain the maximum value for the land, before a decision can be made on whether it has a future for police or as homes.
If developed for housing, the police investigation centre would be the only police presence left on the site.
Outline plans were submitted to East Suffolk Council on Tuesday.
Mr Passmore said: "In order to save money that can be re-invested into police services, we are exploring as one of the options the possibility of selling the site at Martlesham for development and relocating the headquarters elsewhere in the Ipswich area.
"Nothing is set in stone. We need to understand the true value of the site so that we can then make a decision as to whether it should be sold or not. "Work will continue alongside the application process to more fully evaluate the costs of relocation and refurbishment options with particular regard to working closely with other public sector partners.
"We have held a public exhibition to update local residents on these proposals and I've also met with local town and parish councillors to keep them updated. I will continue to keep these communication channels open as this process continues."
The outline plans propose 300 homes for the land, 33% of which would be designated affordable homes. It also proposes to keep 44% of the total site as open green space - nearly five hectares.
It emerged last year that a covenant existed dating back to 1973 when Bradford Property Trust sold the land to Suffolk Constabulary, which restricts development to only half of the site.
It is understood this would need to be resolved between police and Bradford in order for any development to happen, and could require a financial settlement.
Those talks are expected to take place this summer when the PCC's office carry out the full financial evaluation, subject to outline planning permission being approved.
The plans are currently in the consultation phase, and likely to go before East Suffolk's planning committee in late spring or early summer.
Parish council reaction
Martlesham Parish Council has said it does not object to the principle of development there, but did have some serious concerns.
Mike Irwin, parish council chairman, said: "We don't object in principle to development and we don't object in principle to some smaller properties.
"We are concerned about the location of the police investigation centre next to it for safety and security reasons, and that concern is echoed by the planning inspector."
Mr Irwin said there was issues around traffic given that the site's access will only be from Portal Avenue, as it is currently, and added: "We are also concerned about how it will connect with the existing residential areas in Martlesham Heath."
Other issues around school and health centre capacity and lack of bungalow provision have also been voiced.
It is understood the council is considering holding a public meeting over the plans, although that has not yet been confirmed.