Campus could include town park

SUFFOLK College could absorb one of the most popular parks in Ipswich to give it a green campus, The Evening Star can reveal today.Alexandra Park, which is next to the existing college, could be included in its site to help bridge the gap between town and gown.

SUFFOLK College could absorb one of the most popular parks in Ipswich to give it a green campus, The Evening Star can reveal today.

Alexandra Park, which is next to the existing college, could be included in its site to help bridge the gap between town and gown.

It would not be closed to the public, and would still be a valuable asset for the town – but the fence separating it from the college could be removed and it would become a focus for educational activities.

Most universities created over the last 50 years have a large area of parkland which is used by students, staff, and local people.

The University of Essex was built at Wivenhoe Park which is still a popular recreation area and the University of East Anglia was built beside a large lake and the grounds are used by people from the Earlham area of the city.

Ipswich council chief executive James Hehir, who is a member of the College's corporation, said Alexandra Park would give it more of a university feel – but was anxious to dispel fears that local people would lose a local amenity.

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He said there would be no change to the facilities the park provided for local residents, the only change would be that there be no fence sealing it off from the college.

Alexandra Park is very popular especially with people who live on the east of Ipswich town centre.

It is regularly used for rallies and other events. Last year it was used by the Royal Helicopter when The Queen and Prince Phillip flew in for the Golden Jubilee celebrations in Ipswich.

It is unlikely that the college would seek to take over all the land currently occupied by Suffolk County Hall if that moves to the TXU building in Russell Road.

St Edmund House, currently home to the environment and transport department, could be converted into an academic library for the college/university.

St Paul House, Alexandra House, and St Giles House in Rope Walk could also be absorbed by the college – although they would probably have to be demolished and the land redeveloped.

County Council land on the other side of Rope Walk – including the council's social club – would probably be sold for redevelopment, either housing or commercial buildings.

The College is unlikely to have any use for the listed St Helen's Court building – including the council chamber and chief executive's office – which could not be radically altered in any development.

And St Andrew House is likely to demolished for redevelopment.

Suffolk College still owns a prime Waterfront site, and eventually hopes that will become the administration centre.

Mr Hehir's ambition is for this to be a learning centre for the whole town – similar to the Forum in Norwich.

"We don't want something that is inward looking and sees itself as too self-contained. It needs to be something that belongs to everyone – shared by the university and the wider community," he said.

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