Visionary plans to save an Ipswich Waterfront landmark
10:10 25 January 2016
Plans for the Victorian brewery include a `mini Albert Hall’ conference and concert centre
At-risk Ipswich icon, the disused Tolly Cobbold brewery at Cliff Quay, could become a tourist attraction under latest plans revealed by the owners and developers.
The owners want to restore the historic Victorian brewery, where Tolly Cobbold beers were produced for decades, and introduce new uses to make it a
a viable centre for business, education and for events and concerts too.
It has been closed since 2002, ending more than 250 years of brewing on the site.
The development plan for the area also includes 220 new homes close to the waterfront.
Previous plans for apartments in the brewery building, and for shopping, have been dropped in favour of these public uses.
Now they would bring in students, visitors and tourists instead.
There would be spaces for start-up business, a restaurant and a cafe, a mini brewing museum and the main part of the four-storey main building would become the 200-plus seater auditorium, available for conferences, educational lectures and for concerts.
The concert hall would be the full, four-storey height of the impressive building.
Project co-ordinator Clive Thompson said: “It will be like a little Albert Hall, or a Snape Maltings concert hall.
“It has reached a very exciting stage.”
They had had very productive discussions with the local authority planners, he said, and would now make formal planning applications to the borough council.
The Ipswich business community, local people and residents were invited to visit a special exhibition at The Brewery Tap pub, to see the development plans and ask questions of the developers about the scheme.
As part of the development project a new home would also be created for the historic vehicles collection of Ipswich Transport Museum.
Architect John Lyall, whose other projects have included the Jerwood DanceHouse on the quayside, said it was important to find new uses for the historic brewery.
He said: “We have had an amber light from the Heritage Lottery Fund to apply for a grant to save the listed building.
“This way it will be used for education, and for business.
“You will be creating employment as well as saving the historic building.
“There will he spaces for start-up businesses and the auditorium.
“It will be used for education and for businesses, that would secure the building for the future.
“The university has already expressed in interest in using the auditorium for lectures.
“We have already been in touch with them.”
The new performance area would be a great addition to Ipswich, he said.
“Ipswich does need another auditorium. I think it will work hard here.
“The Jerwood DanceHouse seats 200 people, for example.
“I think for bands you could bring in about 250/300 people here.
“You could create more space by removing seats for exhibitions.”
Under the plans the main entrance to the building would be turned round, to what is the back of the brewery, with a Waterfront restaurant space being created at the front overlooking the Orwell.
“We have had a lot of support from Ben Gummer and the Ipswich Vision over these plans.
“There is still a lot of work to be done. This is the outline application and we need to up the details for a detailled planning application.
“There are also grant applications that have to be made, including our Heritage grant.”
In the short term, scaffolding needed to be put up to protect the brewery building.
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