Bid for outdoor cafe on Cornhill could bring new life to heart of Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 19:00 26 August 2020 | UPDATED: 11:53 27 August 2020

Kie Humphreys, operator of the Town & Tea cafe at Ipswich Town Hall. Picture: ARCHANT

Kie Humphreys, operator of the Town & Tea cafe at Ipswich Town Hall. Picture: ARCHANT


Could a touch of real continental cafe culture be on its way to the Cornhill in Ipswich with the introduction of more outdoor seating for the Town Hall coffee shop?

The two tables already at the Town Hall could be joined by six more. Picture: PAUL GEATERThe two tables already at the Town Hall could be joined by six more. Picture: PAUL GEATER

An application has been lodged to install six more tables and 16 more seats to add to the two tables and four seats that are already in place at the bottom of the Town Hall steps – and there are hopes that they could be up and running in time to catch the last of the summer wine (or beer, or coffee).

The application has been lodged by Town Hall manager Adam Keer and will be considered by the council’s licensing department. It would be operated by the existing Town Hall cafe which is run by Coffee Cat.

Kie Humphreys from Coffee Cat said: “We had hoped this would have been in place by the time the Cornhill work was finished, but hopefully it will not be too long before it can go through.

“We have been open again for a few weeks – but it is clear some people are still nervous about meeting in an indoor cafe even though they might be happy enough to sit outside so we hope we can develop more seating for them.”

MORE: Rebuilding work at Ipswich Cornhill finally completed

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Having pavement cafes on the Cornhill was always part of the vision for the town centre when the rebuilding project was conceived – and Alexandra Ward councillor John Cook said bringing more outdoor seating was crucial to the future of the area.

“The Cornhill is crying out for something like this. If you go to any town square on the continent that’s the kind of thing you find. It would be very good for the cafe in the current atmosphere with the concern about social distancing – but also in the long-term in creating a lively area here.

“I know that when Pret were planning to come here this is the kind of thing we were hoping to see – and if there is a cafe or restaurant that is coming to the Old Post Office it’s the kind of thing we might see there too.”

The application will be examined by council officials and might have to be discussed by a meeting of the borough’s licensing committee. However there does seem to be widespread support.

The only downside is that the formal go-ahead now seems unlikely to come until early autumn which might limit the appeal of the outdoor seating until better weather starts to arrive again next spring.

An Ipswich Borough Council spokeswoman said: “We are so pleased to see the return of the Town Hall Café operated by Coffee Cat. We have worked closely with them to make the café Covid-Secure and it is fantastic to see them welcoming customers back for the usual range of tasty cakes, sandwiches and drinks.

“To help them cater for visitors we are applying for a further six tables and 16 chairs to be situated outside the Town Hall on the Cornhill. With this, the return of the Ipswich Farmers’ Market next month and the fountains being switched back on, the Cornhill is living up to its expectations as a focal point at the heart of the town.”

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