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Introduction Maps Written Statement Planning Policy Index Copyright

INTRODUCTION

14.1 This chapter of the Local Plan deals with the five parishes of Woodbridge, Melton, Ufford, Pettistree and Wickham Market, which stretch along the A12 beyond Martlesham and the Ipswich Fringe. As one would expect, the greater proportion deals with Woodbridge (and Melton). However, there are issues in the other parts of the area, and the following subjects are covered:

• The Area Generally (including housing, the villages and the countryside) (para 14.6)

• Wickham Market (para 14.15)

• St Audry's (para 14.23)

• Woodbridge and Melton (para 14.52)

• Implementation (para 14.160).

14.2 The Woodbridge Area consists of the five parishes of Woodbridge, Melton, Ufford, Pettistree and Wickham Market, which stretch along the A12 beyond Martlesham and the Ipswich Fringe. This location along the Trunk road has, in recent years, created considerable pressure for development as a continuation of previous significant growth, particularly within the historic town of Woodbridge and in the larger Villages of Melton and Wickham Market. Further large-scale development, however, would be inappropriate, because of the potential damage to the character of the settlements and surrounding Countryside. The south-eastern periphery of the Woodbridge Area lies within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, whilst a significant part of the remainder of the Area, including the upper reaches of the River Deben valley and Byng Brook, are defined as Special Landscape Areas.

14.3 The quality of the built environment is reflected in the fact that each settlement in the Plan Area exhibits its own unique historic form and character, and each has accordingly been designated a Conservation Area. There is also the St Audry's Hospital complex, a group of buildings, part of which is listed, set in extensive and attractive parkland, which closed in 1992.

14.4 Today, Woodbridge itself exhibits many attractive features. The present mixture of land uses in the town centre, occupying buildings of a great variety and quality of architectural style, gives the central area of the Town its undoubted character and charm. The combination, therefore, of a renowned historic centre, which also has a healthy commercial atmosphere, has inevitably resulted in the Town becoming one of the outstanding tourist centres within Suffolk.

14.5 The Woodbridge Area and Deben Peninsula, as defined in this Plan, together form the Woodbridge Policy Area, as defined in the Suffolk Structure Plan. Due to the need to protect the landscape, particularly the AONB, the need to conserve high quality agricultural land, the need to protect the historic character of the settlements, particularly Woodbridge, and the need for restraint after two decades of rapid growth, a strategic policy of constraint is applicable to this Policy Area. This is also necessary to seek to prevent the merging of the settlements in this area with each other and with Martlesham.

THE AREA GENERALLY

HOUSING

HOUSING REQUIREMENTS

14.6 The Structure Plan (Incorporating Alterations 1, 2 and 3) does not include specific housing requirement figures for parts of Districts, except the Ipswich Policy Area. It is, therefore, not appropriate nor possible to identify any specific strategic housing requirements for the Woodbridge Area or for the town of Woodbridge itself (see para 3.9).

NEW HOUSING: SCALE AND LOCATION

14.7 As clearly outlined in Chapter Three of the Plan, it is in Towns where most development, particularly of a large scale, is most appropriately located. In this respect Woodbridge, with parts of the parish of Melton, is defined as a 'Town' in the Suffolk Structure Plan. In addition, a very small part of Martlesham Parish, around Dukes Park, abuts the administrative area of Woodbridge but, to all extents and purposes, is part of the urban fabric of the Town of Woodbridge and is, therefore, included within the physical limits of Woodbridge. This should not be confused with the administrative boundary.

14.8 Outside of the Town, there are settlements in each of the remaining parishes which have been identified as Villages . The scale of new development appropriate to each Village will be dependent upon its individual scale and character. Applications for new development within the Village will be assessed against the following policy. It should be noted that not only is a part of the Melton parish defined as a 'Town', but part is also a 'Village' for reasons set out later in paras 14.61.

POLICY AP230

Woodbridge Area: Development in Villages

In order to implement Policy AP27, the following settlements are defined as Villages, the appropriate scale of development being:

(i) infilling only within the Villages of:

Pettistree

Ufford

(ii) infilling, or a group of dwellings well related to their surroundings, within the Villages of:

Melton (Village)

Wickham Market

14.9 Within the defined physical limits boundaries there may be areas which should remain undeveloped because of their contribution to the street scene or the character of the settlement. Those in Woodbridge and Melton are considered later in para 14.64. Elsewhere, such 'Areas to be Protected from Development' are covered by Policy AP28 and include:

Pettistree

land around the Laurels and to the south-east of Pettistree Lodge

Ufford

curtilages south-west of School Lane, adjacent to the old A12, and around the Church

Wickham Market

land around the Vicarage.

Outside the defined physical limits the area is defined as `Countryside' , to which General Policies AP8 and AP30 will apply.

EMPLOYMENT

14.10 The close proximity to Ipswich means that the employment needs of the Area are largely met there. This is particularly the case with Woodbridge, for reasons set out later in para 14.84 but is a fundamental aspect of the constraint policies for the area.

COUNTRYSIDE

LANDSCAPE

14.11 The Deben estuary is part of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and hence of national importance in landscape terms. Policies in Part One of this Plan will be strictly applied. The Deben and its tributaries beyond Melton are also designated Special Landscape Areas, to which Policy AP13 in Chapter One applies.

14.12 Other parts of the Area, although not having any particular recognition are, nonetheless, attractive or important in their own right and warrant careful protection. This is particularly the case in respect of the landscaping setting of Woodbridge itself, and this is referred to later in para 14.77.

NATURE CONSERVATION

14.13 The area is also important in nature conservation terms, with a number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest and County Wildlife Sites (see paras 1.65 to 1.72). In particular, the River Deben has recently been designated as an SSSI in recognition of its national importance for wildlife. Policy AP15 in Part One of the Plan will apply.

WATER RECREATION

14.14 Water recreation, including the pressure for new developments, is discussed later in relation to Woodbridge (para 14.110). General policies relating to the Deben are also contained in Part One of the Plan.

WICKHAM MARKET

14.15 As referred to earlier, Wickham Market is defined as a village, to which Policies AP27 and AP230 will apply. A physical limits boundary is defined on the Proposals Map, as well as an Area to be Protected from Development (see para 14.9).

14.16 The only other issues which require consideration in this Local Plan are employment and the Hill.

EMPLOYMENT

14.17 In the Villages, the District Council will encourage small-scale developments which conform to Policy AP52 in Chapter Four of the Plan. One particular site has been identified, at Border Cot Lane, Wickham Market , part of which has planning permission for employment purposes. This site is still suitable for such a use, which would provide employment for the village and a wider rural area.

POLICY AP231

Wickham Market: Border Cot Lane

Land at Border Cot Lane, Wickham Market, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated for Employment (Classes B1 and B2) purposes.

B8 uses would be considered on their merits but the likely traffic generation would be a material consideration.

14.18 This allocation includes the depot to the east and enables a comprehensive scheme to take place. This would have access from Riverside View and means the existing substandard access to the depot could be closed off.

CENTRAL AREA

14.19 Wickham Market has an obvious central core around the Hill, where the majority of shops and businesses are located. It will be important to ensure that this does not start to 'spread' into adjacent areas, which are primarily residential, to the detriment of amenity or the Conservation Area.

POLICY AP232

Wickham Market: Central Area

In Wickham Market, proposals for shops, offices and businesses will only be permitted within the central core, as defined on the Proposals Map.

THE HILL

14.20 The Hill is also the focal point of the village in physical and community terms. However, the centre tends to be dominated by cars, which are intrusive visually and create conflict with pedestrians. This conflict is due to the haphazard nature of the circulatory arrangements within the area, the presence of on-street parking, and the overall volume of traffic.

14.21 The District Council recognises how important the Hill is as a centre for the village and a wider rural catchment area, and recognises the fact that many of its users travel there by car. Nevertheless, the Council would support an improvement scheme which created a safer and more pleasant environment for shoppers and visitors whilst, at the same time, retaining parking facilities. Some examples of possible elements of a scheme include:

(i) the closure of the northern side to all but servicing and emergency vehicles, and its subsequent paving or resurfacing;

(ii) the realignment of the central area to create a `village square' to incorporate the toilets, and to be enhanced by seating areas and landscaping;

(iii) removal of on-street parking;

(iv) parking on the square limited to short-stay only;

(v) consideration given to reducing the bus layby in size.

14.22 In order to be effective, a scheme would need to be complemented by the provision of additional parking elsewhere because of the marginal loss of existing spaces. Potential exists adjacent to the Village Hall, to the rear of the garage on the High Street. A footpath link would also need to be considered.

POLICY AP233

Wickham Market: The Hill

As financial resources permit, the District Council will promote a scheme of environmental enhancement at the Hill, Wickham Market, as shown on the Proposals Map. This will be complemented by the Council seeking to raise the overall standard of the environment in this area through the control of development.

ST AUDRY'S HOSPITAL

INTRODUCTION

14.23 St Audry's Hospital is a substantial complex of buildings, part of which is Listed, set in an extensive area of attractive countryside and parkland covering 125 acres.

14.24 Although once being a major local employer, the complex has, more recently, also served a recreation function for the local community by allowing the use of its facilities.

14.25 It closed in 1992 and this Local Plan must address the future potential uses of the buildings and land which comprise a number of components.

14.26 The main block in the centre is the oldest part of the complex and is a two-storey structure. Adjoining this is a water tower, clearly visible in distant views. Spreading out from the centre are ancillary blocks and wards (most of which are three-storey). Elsewhere within the grounds are interesting free-standing houses, or rows of houses.

14.27 The total area of the existing hospital buildings on the site amounts to about 417,600 sq ft, although not all are reusable. Of this, the main block and ward buildings account for some 230,000 sq ft, or 55% of the total. The existing "footprint" is taken to be in the order of 200,000 sq ft. [The "footprint" in this context means the aggregate ground floor area.]

14.28 In front of the main buildings is a parkland which provides an important setting and approach, particularly the main avenue. The parkland, which is currently laid out as a golf course, also serves an important function of separating the settlements of Ufford and Melton, and its presence helps prevent the linear expansion of the latter.

14.29 To the north-east is Hospital Grove, an attractive and ecologically important woodland.

14.30 To the immediate north of the main buildings are a sportsfield, bowling green and tennis courts, the use of all of which has been allowed to local sports clubs and individuals.

14.31 Immediately outside the hospital site is open farmland, except in the north-east, where there is a nursery garden. The farmland to the north is particularly open and lacking in tree cover. It is very exposed when viewed from the A12 and does not relate to the hospital complex.

14.32 However, because of the landform, land to the west is less exposed and has a better relationship with the complex.

14.33 The main access is from the B1438 to the east, although there is a subsidiary access from Lodge Farm Lane to the south. The B1438 connects to the A12 southbound, immediately to the north of the site. Other connections to the A12 are north of Ufford (northbound) and via Woods Lane, Melton.

14.34 The basic aims and objectives of the Local Plan in respect of considering proposals for the complex are:

(i) retain the Listed buildings;

(ii) be phased over a period likely to extend beyond 2001;

(iii) minimise traffic movements through Ufford, Melton and Woodbridge;

(iv) retain significant trees on the site, including those in the parkland between the buildings and the B1438 which shall be kept for public use in perpetuity;

(v) retain existing recreation facilities and/or relocate them elsewhere within the site;

(vi) accord with a Design Brief to be approved by the District Council;

(vii) be restricted to the physical limits as defined on the Proposals Map;

(viii) have minimal impact on the landscape or the character of the land which separates Melton Village from Ufford;

CONSTRAINTS

14.35 In considering the potential uses of the site and buildings, there are a number of fundamental constraints:

(i) there is no strategic need for the release of land for housing purposes to meet the identified requirements of the Structure Plan;

(ii) without a direct access to the A12, the scale of development is limited because of the impact of traffic on the adjacent settlements of Ufford and Melton;

(iii) the 'Listed' buildings are in a good state of repair and must be retained;

(iv) the parkland is an important feature, which also should be retained, not only for its inherent quality, but also, because of its function in separating Melton and Ufford;

(v) the surrounding countryside, though not having a particular designation is, nevertheless, attractive in its own right.

14.36 Despite these constraints, the District Council is aware that the future of the buildings must be considered in a positive and practical manner. Another institution (hospital, school, etc), or similar development which could utilise the entire complex (hotel, country club, company headquarters, etc) would be an acceptable, and in many ways, the ideal use of the site. However, it is recognised that the sheer volume of current floorspace may reduce the scope for occupation by a single user, though this should not be ruled out.

14.37 If some fragmentation is necessary, and a number of uses are to be accommodated within the complex, it is essential that it is on the basis of a comprehensive plan for the whole of the site, bearing in mind the landform, landscape and layout of the buildings, and the strategic policy constraints.

14.38 The access is critical to the level of use of the site. A new access to the A12 may be technically possible but would have two fundamental disadvantages. In the first instance, it could encourage through-traffic seeking access to Melton and beyond. Secondly, it could create pressures for large-scale development beyond the hospital grounds. Both would be contrary to the general aims of this section of the Plan. Consequently, there would appear to be sound reasons not to pursue a new access to the A12.

14.39 The need to retain the Listed Buildings, the need to retain the parkland and landscape setting, the effect on adjacent communities, and strategic policy implications should dictate the scale of development.

THE POTENTIAL FOR RESIDENTIAL USE

14.40 As stated earlier, there is no need to allocate land to meet Structure Plan Housing requirements for the period up to 2006. Therefore, any residential development could only be justified as an exception to normal planning policy in order to secure the future of the important buildings on the site by their conversion in the first instance where practical, and achieve the various objectives set out previously.

14.41 The amount of residential development, therefore, will be limited in scale and should, where practical, take the form of conversion of existing buildings.

14.42 The District Council may permit some demolition of the non-listed buildings and rebuilding for residential purposes if:

(i) the character and dispersal of the proposed redevelopment is part of an overall design concept which seeks to respect not only the "footprint" but also the institutional appearance and features on the site;

(ii) the "Listed" buildings remain the focal point.

14.43 Adequate landscaping and screening will be essential and the overall design concept should aim to create a balanced community with the listed building element of the existing complex as the focus. Such matters of detail will be covered in a Master Plan to be approved by the District Council.

14.44 Prior to the preparation of the Master Plan, it is impossible to be precise about the actual scale of development which would be appropriate, given the constraints. However, bearing in mind the access limitations and the criteria above, a maximum figure of about 200 units may be acceptable. This scale of development is likely to be less if other uses are to occur. It should also be emphasised that such development will only be acceptable as an alternative to the institutional use for the site and buildings, in order to retain its character, appearance, significant features and Listed Buildings. Residential development will not be acceptable in addition to an alternative use of the site as a whole, for example, for institutional purposes. If residential development on any significant scale is to occur then it will need to consider the provision of other facilities in accordance with other objectives of the Plan, i.e. the provision of open space, local need housing, housing for people with disabilities, community facilities, etc.

THE POTENTIAL FOR EMPLOYMENT USES

14.45 There is clearly the possibility that existing buildings could be converted to employment uses. However, in order to minimise the effect on the surrounding road system and Woodbridge Town Centre, this should be for Business (Class B1) Use only.

14.46 Unless there is the need for such a large amount of floorspace by one or more employers, it is difficult to envisage all of the available floorspace in such an inaccessible location being taken up. Traffic movements could also be excessive and a direct access to the A12 would be necessary.

14.47 The site may be acceptable for other uses, e.g. hotel, country club, or possibly a mix of uses. However, these should form part of a comprehensive plan which recognises the important objectives of not exceeding the footprint and respecting the existing form and dispersal of buildings.

EXISTING RECREATIONAL FACILITIES

14.48 The existing facilities are valued by the local population and in the event of new development or redevelopment should, if practicable, be retained, or relocated elsewhere on the site. The existing parkland, now laid out as a golf course, is also valued as a facility and provides an important setting to the institutional buildings. It is this setting which is critical and in this respect the parkland, with public access, should be preserved in perpetuity.

THE NEXT STEPS

14.49 Given the constraints on the site, particularly the access and strategic planning framework, the re-use of the complex as a whole for institutional purposes is desirable. However, if, on the closure of the main hospital buildings, it has not been possible to secure such use the Council accepts that conversion to a range of uses is acceptable in principle. This approach should prevent the buildings from standing empty and the site becoming derelict. The following policy will form the basis of any decision which the Council must take on the future of the site.

POLICY AP234

St Audry's Hospital: Future Use

The re-use of the St Audry's complex for institutional use remains the preferred option. In the event that it can be demonstrated that there is no viable alternative institutional use, the conversion of the existing buildings to a range of uses is considered acceptable in principle. Where size, form and layout of existing buildings has been shown to the satisfaction of the District Council to make conversion impractical then redevelopment following demolition may also be acceptable, all subject to Policy AP235. The range of uses can comprise one or a mix of the following:

(i) business (Class B1);

(ii) residential;

(iii) hotel;

(iv) countryclub;

(v) institutional

14.50 The relative merits of the buildings on the site, the relationship between them, the retention of trees and woodland, and access restrictions will require further investigation and assessment in a Master Plan. This will be prepared by and/or in co-operation with the owners and approved by the District Council. In preparing the Master Plan, an assessment of the capability for conversion will be a primary consideration. Any subsequent redevelopment will not be permitted other than in conformity with this Master Plan. It may not be required in respect of a straightforward change of use from the present residential institution to, for example, a non-residential institution. It would be required, however, before the District Council could adequately consider any changes which the new user contemplated.

14.51 The following policy establishes a framework for the Master Plan, and criteria against which any planning applications will be assessed.

POLICY AP235

St Audry's Hospital: Development Framework

Development proposals for the St Audry's complex shall be contained within the physical limits, as defined on the Proposals Map, shall retain the listed buildings, and will be assessed against the following criteria:

(i) the need to minimise traffic movements through Ufford, Melton and Woodbridge;

(ii) the retention of significant trees on the site and the parkland area, as shown on the Proposals Map;

(iii) impact upon the landscape or the character of the land which separates Melton from Ufford;

(iv) the need to respect the footprint and form, character and dispersal of existing buildings;

(v) where there is a residential element;

(a) the retention, where reasonably practical, and/or relocation on the site of the existing recreational facilities;

(b) the need to provide a level of services and community facilities appropriate to meet the needs of residents and other occupiers of the site;

(c) in the event that it is a wholly residential scheme, the maximum number of dwellings permitted shall be 200.

Planning applications will be considered only in the context of a Master Plan for the whole of the site. This shall address the above criteria, define the footprint, and include a phasing policy as well as appropriate measures for the future management of the parkland.

WOODBRIDGE AND MELTON

INTRODUCTION

14.52 Woodbridge exhibits many of the attractive features of the classic English country town, having developed gradually over a period of 700 years without any major disturbance. Today, the central area retains a rich heritage from these past centuries, as can be seen in individual buildings, groups of buildings and in the medieval street pattern.

14.53 Melton has shared recent growth with adjacent Woodbridge, but has, in its older parts, retained its village identity. Despite the construction of modern estates, there are still areas in the parish, close to Woodbridge, which have a rural character because of the presence of trees and open spaces. Outside of the two settlements is attractive countryside, and expansion is constrained by the River Deben to the east and the A12 Trunk Road to the west. The river frontage is extremely popular and one of the principal features of interest to visitors and residents alike.

14.54 Although there are some limited employment opportunities in the settlements, their employment function is not as significant today as it would have been in the past. This is largely because of the constraints on development and their proximity to the rapid expansion of Ipswich.

14.55 Woodbridge Town Centre serves a wide, rural catchment area. Many of its food and non-food shops are specialised, catering for both a local demand and for an increasing tourist trade. It is important to maintain and enhance its viability and vitality.

HOUSING STRATEGY

14.56 The aims and objectives of the Plan in respect of Woodbridge and Melton are:

(i) to constrain development, in recognition of the high landscape and townscape quality and the overall character of the settlements;

(ii) to retain the separate identities of Woodbridge and Melton by preventing their further coalescence;

(iii) to preserve and enhance the historic and architectural character of the centre of Woodbridge;

(iv) to preserve and enhance the function of Woodbridge as a local shopping centre;

(v) to protect and enhance the landscape setting.

14.57 As stated earlier in the Plan (para 3.12) there is no strategic requirement to make allocations of land for housing and, therefore, no such allocations are made in Woodbridge and Melton. In any event in the Town of Woodbridge, with part of Melton, strategic policy has consistently applied a restraint policy. This reflects:

a) the limited employment base;

b) the character of the Town;

c) the physical constraints of the Deben and the A12;

d) the availability of land on the nearby Ipswich Fringe;

e) the high priority given to conservation objectives.

14.58 In addition, close to the Town, at the former St Audrys Hospital and at the former Bentwaters Airbase, are considerable areas of land available for development. Therefore, a policy of restraint is proposed to continue for the Town:

POLICY AP236

Woodbridge/Melton: Restraint

The strategic policy of restraint on new housing development in Woodbridge/Melton will continue to be applied through the retention of the physical limits boundary, as defined on the Proposals Map. New housing development will, therefore, consist of infilling, groups or small-scale developments, subject to the following:

a) no material adverse impact on the Conservation Areas or Listed Buildings;

b) no material adverse impact on the urban fringe or setting of the Town (see also Policy AP240);

c) the avoidance of the loss of areas which are important components of the street scene, character of the Town, or Townscape, eg open spaces or woodland (see also Policy LP237);

d) access and highway considerations;

e) other policies of the Local Plan and related Supplementary Planning Guidance.

14.59 As also stated earlier, Woodbridge is classified as a Town to which Policy AP26 will apply. The physical limits boundary of the Woodbridge 'Town' area, as shown on the Proposals Map, includes parts of the parish of Melton, as the parish boundary extends almost to the town centre of Woodbridge. This involves existing housing areas off Bredfield Road and Melton Road, housing estates under construction at Melton Grange Road; Leeks Hill, an employment area off Melton Road, and part of the District Council offices.

14.60 A small part of Martlesham parish also lies within the physical limits of the Town, as defined. This consists of:

(i) the former tree nursery land between Ipswich Road and the A12 , which has planning permission for residential development; and

(ii) the low density residential area of Dukes Hill.

14.61 In respect of Melton, that part of the parish around, but particularly to the north of the A1152/B1438 crossroads, has retained its village characteristics and a separate identity. The high quality of the built and surrounding rural environments, which is designated as a Conservation Area, indicates that large-scale development is undesirable and the classification of that particular part of Melton as a 'Village' would be more appropriate. In this area, which is shown on the Proposals Map, Policies AP27 and AP230 would apply (see para 14.8).

14.62 Regarding the remainder of Martlesham parish, this is dealt with in Chapter Thirteen on the Ipswich Eastern Fringe.

14.63 The inclusion of parts of Melton and Martlesham parishes in Woodbridge 'Town', with the remainder being designated either 'Village' or 'Countryside' is solely to define areas within which specific policies are to apply. These areas should not be confused with the parish boundaries.

AREAS TO BE PROTECTED FROM DEVELOPMENT

14.64 Within Woodbridge and Melton are a number of open spaces which make a considerable contribution to the character of the settlements and should be retained. They have been designated as 'Areas to be Protected from Development', to which Policy AP28 will apply.

14.65 These areas include Fen Meadow, the grounds of Woodbridge School, Abbey Grounds, Castle Street Amenity Area and gardens off Wilderness Lane. They also include Dukes Hill where, in order to preserve the character and the woodland setting (covered by a Tree Preservation Order), further infill development would not be permitted.

14.66 The following areas are also important but, because of their particular circumstances and development pressures, further policies are appropriate to supplement the General Policy AP28.

The area between Pytches Road and Woods Lane

14.67 This area contains numerous trees and woodlands which, together with the undulating landform, are important components of distant views of the town from the AONB and elsewhere. Overall, the impression is one of an attractive, green backcloth.

14.68 Even though quite large-scale development has taken place in this area, there are parts which still retain a significant proportion of trees, or retain their rural character, such as the grounds of Melton Grange and, in particular, the land around Melton Hall. The grounds of Melton Hall and properties adjacent to it, including the recreation ground, form part of the rural quality of the approach to Melton and separate it from the built-up part of Woodbridge. Development here would be detrimental to the overall character and cause further undesirable coalescence of the two communities. Woods Lane is also very rural in character and any new accesses onto it would, with resulting visibility splays and loss of trees, seriously damage the overall appearance.

14.69 Elsewhere within the area, it is essential that remaining natural features should be retained and new landscaping carried out. In order to protect existing trees, extensions to the existing Tree Preservation Orders may be necessary. The following policy supplements General Policy AP28.

POLICY AP237

Melton: Protection of Trees and Character

The area bounded by Woods Lane, Melton Road, Pytches Road and Bredfield Road, as shown on the Proposals Map, retains its rural and wooded character, and separates the identified Village of Melton from Woodbridge. Within this area there are parts where no further development will be permitted because of:

(i) their important contribution to the setting of Woodbridge and Melton, particularly from distant views;

(ii) the need to preserve their natural features;

(iii) their wildlife importance;

(iv) their importance as settings for listed buildings;

(v) their rural character;

(vi) the need to prevent the coalescence of Woodbridge and Melton Village;

(vii) the need to preserve that part of the area within the designated Melton Conservation Area.

These have been identified as those to which Policy AP28 applies and are shown on the Proposals Map in solid green notation. Within the hatched part of the area the District Council will ensure that the design, density, scale and layout of any new development will not prejudice the protection of important trees and open spaces, and they will require additional tree planting and other landscaping where appropriate .

Garden Centre on Ipswich Road

14.70 This is a major open space within Woodbridge Conservation Area which should be retained. The site is certainly one which is vital to the setting and character of this part of the Town, presents an attractive approach to the Town, and offers excellent views across to the church. Basically, the site comprises four elements:

(i) the sales area, associated buildings, open storage and offices;

(ii) the woodland to the north of the site, largely gale-damaged, within which is a large open storage area;

(iii) the woodland at Warren Hill;

(iv) the open area to the south, with some specimen trees, which can itself be divided into two parts, namely:

(a) the triangle fronting Ipswich Road;

(b) the triangle to the rear, below Warren Hill Road.

14.71 Were the Garden Centre to re-locate or require redevelopment, then consideration would need to be given to the scale of development or suitable alternative uses.

14.72 In respect of the former, it is essential that areas (iii) and (iv) (a) be retained because of their importance, particularly the triangle fronting Ipswich Road and the specimen trees on it. The other areas offer some potential for development, but only as part of a comprehensive scheme for the whole site and not on a piecemeal basis.

14.73 In respect of area (ii), a limited form of development may be appropriate, within and retaining, the most important trees. In area (iv) (b), development would need to be low level and small-scale in nature, related to ancillary development such as car parking.

14.74 A range of alternative uses would be suitable but not residential development because of:

(i) the impact of an access across area (iv) (a) above;

(ii) the need to retain important features, aspects, and the overall character.

POLICY AP238

Woodbridge: Garden Centre, Ipswich Road

Subject to the provision of a new access which does not detract from the character and appearance of the site, or the risk of loss of significant trees, the suitable alternative uses for the Garden Centre site on Ipswich Road, as shown on the Proposals Map, are:

(i) an extension to the existing, or redevelopment of a new Garden Centre;

(ii) redevelopment for offices to a high standard of design;

(iii) redevelopment for a hotel complex;

(iv) redevelopment for an institutional-type use, eg, school, hospital, nursing home etc.

(v) a combination of the above.

Any development which does take place must be comprehensive in nature, be to a high standard of design, and of a bulk and form which would harmonise with the residential surroundings, retaining:

(a) important trees, both individually and in woodland form;

(b) the open character of the site;

(c) in perpetuity the area which fronts Ipswich Road and the block of woodland to the rear of the site, as shown on the Proposals Map.

Woodbridge School

14.75 The principal buildings and the well-treed areas of the Woodbridge School grounds, together form an integral part of the quality and character of the Conservation Area. Although only the group of buildings around Marryott House are listed, these and other prominent buildings in their parkland setting up to Burkitt Road, combine to provide a particularly attractive open contrast to the compact townscape of Market Hill and its adjacent streets. More recent developments along, or adjacent to the Bredfield Street frontage, do less justice to their setting. A third principal element, the playingfields, are more hidden from public view but are given character by their tree-lined border along their western flank, adjacent to Moorfield Road.

14.76 Were the School to seek to concentrate additional educational activity on its existing site, it would be essential to respect these qualities and the lack of potential which exists for significant increases in traffic on Bredfield Street and adjacent streets such as Angel Lane.

POLICY AP239

Woodbridge School

In the event of necessary intensification of educational use of the Woodbridge School site during the Plan period, it will be essential:

(i) to retain the open character of the setting of the principal buildings, including the Chapel, north of Burkitt Road and of the area at the north end of Bredfield Street, in the vicinity of its junction with Castle Street, in particular when viewed from the east;

(ii) to limit traffic generation from any redevelopment of buildings with access to Bredfield Street, to levels not greater than are presently generated on to that street from within the site;

(iii) to ensure that any improved access which may be necessary from Burkitt Road is located so as to minimise impact on existing individual trees and the retention of a walled boundary;

(iv) to retain all trees which make a significant contribution to the character of the Conservation Area.

Any development which does take place must form part of a comprehensive plan for which a Design Brief will need to be prepared and adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance. This should reflect the relevant criteria set out in this Policy, be of a high standard of design, and of a bulk, form and appearance which would preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the Conservation Area. In particular, the plan must reflect the limited capacity of adjoining town centre streets to absorb further traffic from within the site.

THE LANDSCAPE SETTING

14.77 The physical limits boundary of the 'Town' area, as defined, seeks to draw a clear distinction between those large areas, which may be regarded as predominantly built-up, and the open land beyond, to which the Countryside policies will apply. In particular, it differentiates between the built-up part of Woodbridge to the east of the A12 Trunk Road, and the Countryside and scattered buildings to the west. The A12 clearly provides a firm edge to the town and the land beyond, which is of a different and distinct quality and character. That character should not be eroded by further development, and the District Council will operate a very strong restraint policy in the area to the west of the A12. This has recently been upheld in appeal decisions for employment, residential and catering uses. The following policy supplements the General policy on the Countryside, AP8.

POLICY AP240

Woodbridge & Melton: Development to the West of the A12 (T)

In order to protect the landscape setting of Woodbridge and Melton no further development will be permitted to the west of the A12 Trunk Road.

14.78 To the east of the 'Town' area the landscape setting of Woodbridge, particularly when viewed from the River Deben, is extremely attractive. The open landscape around Kingston Nurseries, together with the area of Broom Heath, with its numerous trees, and Broom Hill heathland, all combine to create a foreground of contrasts, when viewed from the river. Any development on this land would not only be visually intrusive from within the AONB but would destroy an important part of the Town's setting. This area has, therefore, been excluded from the physical limits boundary and the Countryside and landscape conservation policies of the Plan will be strictly applied. Future uses of the Kingston Middle School are also constrained by the same considerations (see para 14.116).

HOUSEBOATS

14.79 At Woodbridge and Melton, a number of houseboats are moored alongside the stretch of river wall between Wilford Bridge at Melton and Sun Wharf in Woodbridge, both areas being within the AONB.

14.80 A proliferation of houseboats in various states of repair and the associated facilities on the river wall, has an adverse impact on the area, which has been given national recognition for its landscape qualities. These boats do not have the benefit of planning permission and any application for consent would normally be refused, in accordance with long-established policies to resist development in the open countryside.

14.81 In addition to its role as Planning Authority, the District Council has a responsibility for public health and is concerned that some of the houseboats lack even the most basic amenities.

14.82 Clearly, the presence of houseboats in this sensitive location runs contrary to the Council's policies for the protection of the Countryside. However, in this particular case, there may be other mitigating circumstances to take into account; the fact that a number of houseboats have been established for some years, they are the sole residence of the occupiers, and enforcement may merely move the `problem' elsewhere. However, these factors should not be used as a precedent to allow further houseboats or very recent arrivals to become established.

14.83 The last comprehensive survey took place on 8 August 1989, and it is this date which will be critical in considering the status of individual boats. In addition, the condition and appearance of boats will be important, and those in a poor state of repair and thereby visually intrusive, should be removed. In addition, any boats which remain will need to comply with the Council's adopted Code of Practice, which requires the boats to be in good condition and fit for habitation. In addition, it covers such matters as the appearance of boats, ancillary cables and gangplanks, the provision of services, fire fighting and the safeguarding of adjoining rights of way. This Code of Practice is set out in Appendix 3.

POLICY AP241

Woodbridge & Melton: Houseboats

Planning permission for the mooring of additional houseboats on the section of the river between Wilford Bridge and Sun Wharf at Woodbridge will not be granted, and where planning permission falls to be considered for existing ones it will not be granted where it would result in, or perpetuate, serious visual intrusion.

All other houseboats will be assessed against General Policy LP33.