New multi-storey car park plans for Portman Road in Ipswich given go ahead
Plans for a new multi-storey car park in Ipswich town centre have been given the green light.
Ipswich Borough Council is behind plans to develop part of the large Portman Road car park for a seven-storey facility that would accommodate nearly 750 vehicles, as well as a new public open space.
The council said it is part of a wider vision of economic development in the area that could see new offices and a hotel nearby.
Despite some fears over the environmental impact, the council’s planning committee voted by nine votes to three in favour of development on Wednesday morning.
Councillor Luke Richardson said: “Overall I think it is great for the town and it shows that we have got great confidence in the town as a council, and I think that is what we all need at a time like this.”
The plans will feature cycle storage and 149 electric vehicle charging points – with the option of a further 149 electric points able to be installed in future.
Councillor Carole Jones said the multi-storey was “clearly a better use of land” because it made a more efficient use of the space and added: “This paves the way for virtually 300 more [EV charge points] which I think must be a good thing.”
Councillor Adam Rae said: “If we are going to improve air quality then one of the things we can do is to see a shift to electric cars away from internal combustion and in order to see that happen we need a number of EV charging points.”
However, a series of objections had been received over the proposals – including a petition of 88 signatures by the Ipswich Friends of the Earth.
Among the concerns were that building a car park contradicted ambitions by the council for more people to cycle or use public transport and reduce car use, as well as concerns about air quality.
The council last year declared a climate emergency.
Councillor Oliver Holmes said: “There have been many objections with environmental concerns. I think objectors are entitled to ask that if we don’t enforce environmental policies in our local plan, what is the point of them?”
Councillor Liz Harsant added that town centre car parks were only operating at around 50% capacity, and there remained uncertainty about staff returning to offices in the town.
The application approved is an outline bid, meaning the council must come back with detailed proposals for a final decision.
A timeline for work has not yet been set out.