New restaurant could be coming to the Waterfront, but theatre plans dropped

The empty warehouse building on the corner of St Peter's Dock and Foundry Lane was intended to be used as a theatre space.

The empty warehouse building on the corner of St Peter's Dock and Foundry Lane was intended to be used as a theatre space. It is now hoped to become a restaurant. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

An empty warehouse building on Ipswich Waterfront could soon become a new restaurant after plans for a theatre space were dropped. 

Plans to grant an as-yet-unknown restaurant a 20-year lease for the building on the corner of St Peter’s Dock and Foundry Lane will be put to the council’s executive on July 12 before potentially going before the full council.

According to council documents, it is hoped the new restaurant could be open by the end of the year – subject to planning. Council bosses said the name of the restaurant operator would be announced once contracts had been signed.

The move is part of the wider drive to regenerate the Waterfront – with developments planned in the neighbouring Burton's building, Paul’s silo and at 4 College Street. 

In 2020, planning permission to turn the warehouse building into the new home of physical theatre company Gecko were given the green light.

However, due to the costs of converting the site, the council and Gecko are now looking for more suitable premises. 

Plans for how the theatre space may have looked were revealed in 2020.

Plans for how the theatre space may have looked were revealed in 2020. - Credit: Dan Fisher

The vacant warehouse building is on the corner of St Peter's Dock and Foundry Lane.

The vacant warehouse building is on the corner of St Peter's Dock and Foundry Lane. - Credit: Google Maps

Steve Allman, head of operations and development at Gecko, said: “Ourselves and IBC came to the decision that, to achieve what we need to in the space technically, but also structurally, just wasn't cost-efficient for either party.

“So, we've opted to stop any further development on that site, but both parties are still very committed to trying to make a creation space within Ipswich for ourselves, but also for artists and communities.” 

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However, he remains optimistic that the theatre company will find a new home in Ipswich soon. 

“The likelihood now is that we’ll identify a site, and will probably build from new," he said/

“That would mean we could build a structure that actually is suitable for what we need, rather than trying to convert an existing structure. 

“I think it’s a great opportunity.”  

He is hopeful that a new site will be announced in the next two months but said discussions are still ongoing. 

David Ellesmere, leader of IBC, said: “The development of the Waterfront marches onwards with Ipswich Borough Council, and this proposal will start a chain of developments at St Peter’s Dock. 

“This restaurant proposal will enhance the area and attract more people to visit and work here. The Waterfront increasingly never stands still and nor will the council in bringing new jobs and businesses to Ipswich. 

“I look forward to us making a series of announcements over the coming months about other Waterfront sites in the council’s ownership.”