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Rebuilt Cornhill has boosted visitors to central Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 05:30 27 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:37 28 January 2020

Ipswich Cornhill hosted the Music: Made in Suffolk festival in August while Ed Sheeran was playing at Chantry Park. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Ipswich Cornhill hosted the Music: Made in Suffolk festival in August while Ed Sheeran was playing at Chantry Park. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Archant

The revamped Cornhill helped bring many more people into the town centre in 2019 - but the town needs to build on that over the next few years according to the Ipswich Vision Partnership.

The Cornhill Christmas Tree was at the heart of the town's festive celebrations.  Picture: VICTORIA PERTUSAThe Cornhill Christmas Tree was at the heart of the town's festive celebrations. Picture: VICTORIA PERTUSA

In their latest six-monthly review, the group which brings together the business community, local authorities, the university and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership has looked at the impact of changes to the town centre - but also at what needs to be done to improve the town further.

Partnership chair Terry Hunt said: "It is clear that more people are using the Cornhill than before it was redeveloped - especially when there are events there. Over the last year there has been a 10% increase in the number of people in that part of town when it is being used for events.

"That is new. Before the work there was not a flat surface there that could be easily used. This is really helping to bring more people into town.

"But even when you haven't got events, the Cornhill has attracted more people. When the weather is fine, the fountains are operating, and the deckchairs are out it is a great place for families to meet."

Ipswich Farmers' market has brought people to the town centre on the first Sunday of each month.  Picture: SUFFOLK MARKET EVENTSIpswich Farmers' market has brought people to the town centre on the first Sunday of each month. Picture: SUFFOLK MARKET EVENTS

The Partnership was now working to try to find uses for prominent buildings on the Cornhill - both the former Grimwades store and the Old Post Office are currently empty - but also looking at other areas of the town.

Mr Hunt said: "We still want to improve the connections between the town centre and the Waterfront. Many people are still unaware of what is at the Waterfront or how to get it."

Partnership member Cathy Frost agreed. She runs the Loveone shop in St Peter's Street near the entrance to the Waterfront - but still had customers who did not know how to reach it.

She said: "We aren't making it easy for people to find the Waterfront. I have people coming into the shop and asking how far it is to the Waterfront. It's only a short distance but you can't see it and it isn't well signposted."

Terry Hunt, chair of the New Anglia Local Enterprise PartnershipTerry Hunt, chair of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership

The Partnership is also looking at other projects that need pushing in and around the town - especially Arras Square which is due to be the first major project of the borough's public realm strategy.

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Mr Hunt added: "Ipswich has a great heritage and we want to make the most of that to sell the town to residents and visitors."

What brought people into the Cornhill during 2019?

Farmers' markets: Now a regular on the Cornhill, on the first Sunday of every month (except January). The first of 2020 is next weekend.

Summer events: A series of events during the summer brought people on to the Cornhill with music, dance and cultural events linked to the Windrush anniversary. The Cornhill also showcased local musical talent to visitors to the town for the Ed Sheeran concerts over the August bank holiday weekend.

There were outdoor screenings of popular family films (on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year!) which brought out crowds of people who were happy to relax in the deckchairs while the children cooled off in the fountains.

While summer ended with a big screen coverage of Last night of the Proms where people gathered to join in with the singing and wave their Union Flags.

Remembrance Day: The Cornhill hosted a special display to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day and other key events of the Second World War.

Christmas: The Cornhill was the focus of the big lights switch on and the town's real Christmas Tree. It also hosted the popular Christmas Craft market which moved under Lloyds Avenue arch, keeping the Cornhill itself clear as a meeting place.

A first list of Cornhill events in 2020 is now being drawn up - but will include events to mark the 75th anniversaries of VE Day and VJ Day which marked the end of the Second World War.

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