Borough is to ‘unlock’ gateway to Waterfront by buying derelict site

David Ellesmere by the site the council is hoping to buy on the Waterfront.

David Ellesmere by the site the council is hoping to buy on the Waterfront. - Credit: Su Anderson

Ipswich council is set to buy the crucial piece of land at the entrance to the town’s Waterfront in a deal that will cost nearly £850,000.

It is to buy the site of the former St Peter’s Warehouse which has been largely derelict since it was destroyed by fire in 2000.

The deal also includes the historic house on the corner of the site – a building that is listed but has been considered to be at risk for many years.

The borough’s executive is to be asked to approve the deal at its meeting next Tuesday and it would be a major shock if they rejected the proposal.

It would allow the council to spend up to £660,000 to buy the site. Once VAT and Stamp Duty is added, this will push the cost up to £823,000.

That is higher than its market value – but officers say it would be better to pay that than go for the market value in the region of £500,000 and then have to spend more than £200,000 on obtaining a compulsory purchase order.

The borough already owns part of the old Burton’s factory fronting the Wet Dock – and the former Paul’s Maltings silo is owned by investment company Investec, which is working with the borough on a redevelopment project.

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Ipswich MP Ben Gummer has been involved in the discussions – and was delighted to hear about the proposal to the council’s executive.

He said: “This is really good news for the town and [council leader] David Ellesmere and [chief executive] Russell Williams should be congratulated.

“It is costing rather more than we would have liked, but it is such an important site that has been left under-used for so long that it is good that something will happen.”

At present much of the site is used as a temporary car park – but that permission is due to run out at the end of the year and the borough has indicated that use is unlikely to be renewed.

Mr Ellesmere said: “This is hugely important for the town. The first thing to do is a full archeological survey so we know what we can do.

“We will be taking some action as soon as we complete to make the house on College Street, which is a listed building, safe and weather-proof so we can look for a new use for that.

“It has taken a long time to get to this point, but we hope to be able to put the sites on the Waterfront together and come up with a really impressive entrance to that part of the town.”