October 21 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Ipswich Council is to step in to redevelop the site seen as vital to the future of the Waterfront.
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.
“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.”