Site Specific Allocations

Adopted January 2011

LOW3 - Town Hall, Council offices and car parks at Mariners Street, Lowestoft

Allocation: Mixed use including student accommodation, offices / studios / creative industries, live-work units and housing

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Context
2.46 This site is situated at the northern end of the historic High Street in the North Lowestoft Conservation Area. The site includes the Town Hall, some vacant buildings and others currently in use as Council offices, including a converted terrace of houses on Compass Street, and areas of car parking. The Town Hall dates from the late 1800's and is a Grade II listed building. Numerous other listed buildings line the High Street in close proximity to the site, along its eastern boundary. Housing borders the site to the north (at Mariners Street and Albany Road) and south (at Haven Court). Jubilee Way runs past the site to the west.

Proposed Development
2.47 The Council is currently considering alternative accommodation needs and it is likely that all or part of the existing site including the Town Hall, offices and car parks will become vacant and available for redevelopment.

LOW3 Image 1.jpg2.48 The site has excellent access to services, facilities and public transport. This makes it a good site for a range of uses in keeping with Core Strategy policies, including office and commercial uses and housing. Improvements to pedestrian and cycle links within and through the site to existing networks will help to connect the development to the surrounding area and encourage walking and cycling.

2.49 One of the key considerations in the redevelopment of this site is that it must be sensitive to the historic value of the site and its surroundings. The Town Hall building should be retained in any development, and its architectural and historic features (such as the Council Chamber) should be protected. The design of new development should be sympathetic to its location, being adjacent to this listed building, on the historic High Street and in the North Lowestoft Conservation Area.

2.50 The Town Hall building could provide a focal point for a cluster of smaller local museums, provide additional space for exhibitions and small scale performance space, education, training and conference facilities while protecting the building itself. There is a lack of cultural facilities in this part of the town and a limited amount of small performance space for local amateur musicians and performers. These types of uses could encourage visitors and tourists into the area to the benefit of local businesses.

2.51 Another consideration is the need to contribute towards the continued vitality of the High Street by retaining footfall for the surrounding shops, services, restaurants and pubs. Office and commercial uses would be valuable in maintaining the number of employees in the High Street area during the day when the Council moves to new premises. Redevelopment and conversion of part of the site and buildings will provide a variety of employment and live-work opportunities for the creative industries, which will complement the heritage environment and provide workspaces for small start-up businesses.

LOW3 Image 2.jpg2.52 Housing would increase the population of this area, which could contribute towards increasing the vitality of the daytime and evening economies of the High Street area. It is proposed that the terrace of seven properties currently in office use, is converted back to residential and a new block of student accommodation is provided, in addition to a number of live-work units as detailed above. There is a demonstrable need for student accommodation to serve University Campus Suffolk Lowestoft (UCSL) and this will increase if plans to double its undergraduate population are realised.

2.53 The County Archaeologist states that the site is located within the town's medieval core, and development is likely to require extensive archaeological excavation and mitigation. The opportunity for archaeological investigation works will be required before redevelopment of the site is carried out.

2.54 The proposal will include the creation of a public square on the corner of Compass Street and High Street. This should be delivered through contributions from the development of the site.

2.55 Landscaping and parking will be required and this should be carefully designed to compliment the historic nature of the locality while providing attractive outside space for future residents. A hard and soft landscaping scheme will be required as part of the planning application.

2.56 The site is located close to the A12, which is the main route into the town from the north. Measures may need to be taken in order to protect residents from noise and traffic pollution. A noise and air quality assessment will therefore be required and mitigation measures identified as part of any planning application.

2.57 The Highways Agency has no objection to the proposed use of the site. However, the Master Planning for the site will need to include a Transport Assessment detailing access arrangements to/from Mariners Street and Compass Street onto the A12.

Policy LOW3

The Town Hall, Council offices and car parks at Mariners Street and Compass Street, Lowestoft, (0.91ha), are allocated for mixed use including student accommodation, offices/studios/creative industries, live-work units (approx. 9 units) and housing (7 units). The site will be developed in accordance with the following site specific criteria:

• The Town Hall building and its historic and architectural features should be conserved and enhanced through sympathetic conversion.
• New buildings should be sympathetically designed to fit in with the historic environment of the High Street.
• An archaeological investigation shall be carried out prior to the submission of a planning application.
• A Transport Assessment should be carried out prior to the submission of a planning application.
• Noise and air quality assessments should be carried out prior to the submission of a planning application and mitigation measures detailed in the design of new buildings.
• The detailed design shall incorporate pedestrian and cycle routes to link to the existing networks.
• A detailed plan of hard and soft landscaping works shall be submitted with the planning application.

Implementation
2.58 A detailed masterplan for the site will need to be prepared for the site to assist in the phasing of its delivery throughout the plan period.