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Gallery: New hope for redevelopment of former St Peter’s site at gateway to Ipswich Waterfront

09:00 16 July 2014

David Ellesmere, leader of the Ipswich Borough Council, talks about development at the RW Paul building on the Ipswich waterfront.

David Ellesmere, leader of the Ipswich Borough Council, talks about development at the RW Paul building on the Ipswich waterfront.

Ipswich Council is to step in to redevelop the site seen as vital to the future of the Waterfront.

Warehouse a lost treasure

St Peter’s Warehouse was one of the most attractive Victorian buildings on the Waterfront – but it had been empty and derelict for many years before it was engulfed by fire in April 2000.

The building was gutted. It lost its roof and the gable ends came down a few days later because of their potential danger.

It had been built as a warehouse for grain and malt – but fell out of use as the commercial docks moved to Cliff Quay.

There were hopes that it could be converted to a new use like Felaw Maltings on the other side of the river, but ultimately it was not to be.

Although it was a listed building, the fire destroyed the building’s integrity and in 2010 the shell was demolished to make way for a temporary car park.

It was sometimes mistakenly referred to as Pauls Maltings – that building still remains as the last industrial silo on the Waterfront next to the now empty site.

That was built in the 1950s and continued in use until the 1990s. The council is hoping to buy that for demolition to clear a larger site for redevelopment.

It is preparing to buy the site of the former St Peter’s Warehouse – which was destroyed by fire in 2000 – and the neighbouring Paul’s Maltings.

And if it is unsuccessful in its negotiations with the current owners it is prepared to take out a compulsory purchase order.

If it can negotiate with the owners, work could start at the end of next year. If a CPO is the only way of getting the project underway, construction is unlikely to start until 2016.

The two pieces of land have separate owners, but are both represented by the same agent.

The former warehouse site – currently used as a temporary car park – has a price tag of £1.5 million while the silo is on the market for £1 million.

However the cost of preparing the land – it would require an extensive archeological dig and flood protection work – means the sites themselves have little value.

Borough council leader David Ellesmere said he hoped the council would be able to negotiate with the current owners, but was preparing the paperwork for a CPO.

He said: “We will be looking at building 60-65 flats about commercial premises on the ground floor – shops, restaurants or a visitor centre. We shall have a design competition for the site.

The blazing building at Ipswich docks. Picture by Jerry Turner in April 2000The blazing building at Ipswich docks. Picture by Jerry Turner in April 2000

“Because this will be a regeneration project the flats will be for sale on the market – we would not be building them as council homes.”

To obtain a CPO the council would have to prove that there is a scheme ready to go ahead and that finance was in place.

Mr Ellesmere said this had already been sorted out and he was determined to push ahead with the project. It is due to be discussed by next month’s meeting of the borough’s executive.

He said: “This is a vital site for the Waterfront. Once it is redeveloped there will be an attractive entrance to the area. We are not looking for an intensive development, but we do want something that catches the eye – in a good sense.”

The proposal has all-party support. Ipswich MP Ben Gummer – who will be challenged by Mr Ellesmere next May – said: “This is great news, it’s just what I’ve been urging them to do and I really hope they get on with it.

“That site needs a stunning building and I really hope this will fit the bill – certainly from what I’ve heard they are looking for the right thing.”

The move also has the support of the Ipswich Partnership which is trying to regenerate the town – and Ipswich Central which represents the business community at its heart.

Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter said: “Anything that improves the connectivity between the town centre and the Waterfront is good for the town, and this proposal is something that our members will broadly welcome.”

24 comments

  • I'm mad, because sadly, I think I actually care about my birthplace. I just wish they would stop pouring money and publicity into the waterfront. It's almost as if they have given up on the rest of the town, and that makes me deeply sad.

    Report this comment

    Winston Barrington Jr.

    Friday, July 18, 2014

  • Ah Utopia is such a fine place to reside. The sound of the Cult bar on Friday sounds great and such an original band name Albion Mills is there an Ipswich connection I seem to remember a pub? Please do correct me if I am wrong. What type of music do they play. And as you mention indeed real glass glasses and beer unlike the horrible plastic ones that other establishments on the waterfront choose to serve their overpriced lack luster lager in. Esco Fiasco Good luck to the band on Friday, Keep music real, As they used to say in my day.

    Report this comment

    Ander P

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • I agree a Unitary authority is what is needed to make any significant improvements. That is effectively what existed until 1974 (ish), before it was reorganised. That isn't the whole answer as SCC would still have their finger into education which they have never been any good at. SCC was always retired army types and those from public schools who didn't understand or have an interest in the public at large and things haven't changed that much even now.

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • @ladyhels Everybody here wants Ipswich to catch up the ground it has lost. Your ire would be better directed toward the councils whose constant bickering hinders progress.

    Report this comment

    Esco Fiasco

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • There's a lot worse places than ipswich so stop putting this town down and focus on the positives instead. Alternatively, you could always move to utopia.

    Report this comment

    ladyhels

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • @AnderP, I agree. The Cult Bar is a great place for a night out, infact I am there Friday as my friends band is playing. Go and see Albion Mills everyone, they're pretty good... plug... plug. Drinks are served in real glasses too rather than plastic beakers.

    Report this comment

    Esco Fiasco

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • @amsterdam81. I think most people are negative exactly because of the council failures and the depressing fact that there is no end in sight to it. Ipswich needs a unitary authority, time and again the message that comes across is one of IBC v SCC. They are politically opposed and it just seems impossible for them to work together productively for the benefit of Ipswich. Which, as they singularly seem to be unable to understand, would benefit Suffolk as a whole.

    Report this comment

    Esco Fiasco

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • It's a shame that so many negative comments have been pasted here. Ipswich is a great place which has been failed over many years by it's councils, mainly SCC. When someone (IBC) shows some leadership they deserve support. None of us want to live amongst derelect , empty buildings and land and the sooner they are developed the better. There are many towns and cities ( Norwich, Colchester, Cambridge and even Bury St Edmumnds) have evolved over recent years and it is time that Ipswich followed their lead. Good luck to IBC. You are not responsible for the failure of private developers. SCC could have done more to ensure places such as County Hall were developed rather than wait for an unearned profit. IBC should be applauded. Little Ben needs to ask his mates on the County Council what they can contribute to making Ipswich better.

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • The parks and Rushmere Heath are a bio hazard unless you have a dog turd detection system. Always a pleasure to take home a soft smelly souvenir on your shoe.

    Report this comment

    Ander P

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • I agree strongly that the Cult bar is a fantastic venue and the prices are great and the quality of food and drink is excellent. A real plus is that you can access it directly from Duke Street and don`t have to enter through either end of the Waterfront which resembles a scene from a war zone

    Report this comment

    Ander P

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • Well said royg!

    Report this comment

    Scott Brock

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • Actually PC Plod I am going to disagree with you about Ipswich. I have sense and I have been around a bit as you say and I can assure you there are a lot worse places than Ipswich. You say it is a dump from end to end. What about the New Wolsley a great theatre,Christchurch Park and all the events they host, Rushmere Heath to walk the dog lovely area, The Dove and Fat Cat great real ale pubs,Cult cafe on the waterfront a great bar I could go on and on. It has a lot going for it you just need to pick and choose where you go and who you mix with. If you want to walk around Ipswich moaning about it carry on because I think this town is great.

    Report this comment

    royg

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • @ Esco, the tall part cannot be occupied because it cannot be finished by the administrator, like i said it's in limbo, an administrator is not a property developer they don't know how to finish that work. It's not empty because it won't sell, it's empty because the flats don't exist to be sold. As for the other parts which have empty flats, so be it... If people bought them as investments, or weekend homes, or are simply trying to let them it doesn't mean they are not sold. And when it comes to developing it's the selling that counts! If you can sell it, what happens after that is not the concern of the developer.

    Report this comment

    Scott Brock

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • Agree with that, Ander P, although I'm more apt to use a phrase from my good old King James bible, "a jewel of gold in a swine's snout" when thinking of the waterfront. Nobody with any sense, or who's been about a bit, can disagree with my assertion that Ipswich is a dump from one end to the other. There's nothing, absolutely NOTHING to draw the paying public into this hell-hole. Even Colchester, though it's little better than a squaddies' toilet, has more to offer. So, actually, I quite like the idea of a maritime museum. Not that anyone will trek down to the waterfront to see it, but we may as well celebrate the one thing Ipswich does have - a great past.

    Report this comment

    PC Plod

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • I meant the tall part, not the smaller Mill units surrounding it. The storm damage still hasn't been repaired after almost a year, that's the building I was talking about. I have a friend who live in one of the flats at the other end and a lot of those are unoccupied too, about a third of the ones in his building. Still, it will be nice to see these two eyesores finally knocked down, although it will no doubt be many years before something is built in their place.

    Report this comment

    Esco Fiasco

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • Ah The jewel in Ipswich`s crown. Surely we as a town have more to offer than this smelly polluted money pit. It is not much better down there now than when the industry was in full flow in the 60`s and 70`s. Even the property developers can not be bothered to waste any more cash there and would rather cut and run.

    Report this comment

    Ander P

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • Great news! A visitor centre would be great... OR how about Ipswich Maritime Museum? For the Maritime Trust? They have the one window so far, but obviously have way more to display. Having a museum and visitor centre at this major gateway would be amazing.

    Report this comment

    Scott Brock

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • @ Esco - almost every single flat that has been completed in the Mill is sold. The only ones that are "empty" are the ones that aren't finished so they can't be sold. They are unfinished because they have been in limbo with a financial administrator, not a property developer. But they have just been sold to a developer who will no doubt finish them off and put them on market in due course. I know people like to think otherwise, but the majority of finished flats all around the waterfront are actually owned and or occupied. People will have to get used to buying and living in flats, there's isn't space to keep building out, so up is the way forward. It's tough! Other towns manage it. Other countries manage it. It's just tough.

    Report this comment

    Scott Brock

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • I can not beleive the negative comments on this page. Secondly yep Benito wanted to draw IBC in to doing someting when there was no money. Now the financial is available should IBC do nothing just because Benito suggested it over a year ago. Grow up and celebrate something being done with this eyesore.

    Report this comment

    The Ginge

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • Not one single flat in The Mill is occupied yet they think building more is a good idea.

    Report this comment

    Esco Fiasco

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • So now we know, it was little Ben's idea all along. This is exactly what is needed, there are far too many sites in Ipswich where development is required but people are expecting to make money not by doing anything but hope that someone else will pay unrealistic sums of money to take on the liability. Let's hope the public purse does not get ripped off by these greedy individuals.

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • Dear PC Plod I am sorry but the only thing you can build down at that end of the Wet Dock is flats. What do you suggest, maybe a new factory with 100's of people going to work or a multistorey shopping centre ? Anything developed at the dock wil create traffic, but it really does need to be finished. Talk to anybody from outside the town visiting and their first comment is love the dockmariner but why have you got a massive puddle and mud pile at its entrance. The opportunity was there for a good medium sized Tesco, so that the 10,000's of thousands of people living in that area could walk to a supemarket and not drive as the town centre shops close at 6pm. But no the usual knee jerk responce to Tescos means we are left with an eyesore at the start of the docks and all the way along where B&Q used to be. This sounds like IBC pulling its finger out and doing something the market can not, sorting out the entrance to the dock area. As the article says it is not worth 2.5 million pound and I hope the owners see sense and take some money, because they are not going to make a mega profit without building something. Good luck Mr Ellesmere.

    Report this comment

    The Ginge

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • Vanity project. The one way system runs like a dream currently....

    Report this comment

    Tedbundy

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • Things you'll never hear an Ipswich resident saying ... "You know what this town really needs? Some more investment at the Waterfront. There aren't nearly enough flats down there. There's plenty of parking and the roads are virtually empty, so all we need now is a few more apartment blocks."

    Report this comment

    PC Plod

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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