Cornhill redevelopment hopes get major county council boost

An architects impression of the proposed new look for Ipswich Cornhill

An architects impression of the proposed new look for Ipswich Cornhill - Credit: Archant

Redevelopment hopes for Ipswich Cornhill have received a major shot in the arm after Suffolk County Council’s new spokesman for the town pledged to match the borough’s £800,000 investment.

That means about half the £3.2million needed to transform the area has now been pledged – and could lead to the unlocking of central government and private sector funds.

All that could mean that work to redevelop the Cornhill could start next year or – probably more likely – in early 2017.

Suffolk County Council deputy leader Christopher Hudson has been given special responsibility for Ipswich in the new cabinet assembled by Colin Noble.

Mr Hudson said his main priority was to bring more economic development to the town – especially the town centre – and get work underway on the Cornhill was central to that.

He said: “Let’s match fund this £800,000 that Ipswich Borough Council have put on one side. That’s money that they have committed.

“There has to be a willingness to help with resources, in the proper world, money – to make sure that we are putting our money where our mouth is, collaborating with Ipswich Borough Council and collaborating 110% with Ben Gummer on his agenda.”

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“I think it’s essential. I think you’ve got to show willing otherwise you lose credibility. We have to listen very carefully to what Lord Rose said because I agree with everything he said.”

Former Marks and Spencer chief Lord (Stuart) Rose first suggested improving the Cornhill when he spoke to the Ipswich Beacon conference in 2012 – and has been advising on the proposals to give it a new look.

These proposals were formally adopted by the partners in early 2014 but at that stage only Ipswich Council was able to pledge any money - 25% of the total amount.

Another partner, Ipswich Central, will be trying to obtain contributions from the private sector to go towards a project that is seen as vital investment in the heart of the town.

Terry Baxter, Chairman of Ipswich Central, welcomed the commitment by the county. He said: “The Cornhill is an important public realm space in the heart of Ipswich.

“As such, it is only right that local and national government funds are committed to its redevelopment. I warmly thank the County Council for the commitment it has shown today.

“This is a further sign of the will amongst key partners to deliver a cohesive plan for our town, a plan that Ipswich Central has worked with its members to initiate.”

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere welcomed the move by the county: “This is very good news indeed but it has been a long time coming!

“There is much more to be done in the town centre alongside this – but when work starts it will be a very important symbol for the town.”

And Ipswich MP Ben Gummer also welcomed the move: “I was instrumental in getting this going – I invited Sir Stuart Rose to the town in the first place,” he said.

“I do hope this allows us to get on with the work in the not-too-distant future and that it encourages more investment in Tavern Street, Westgate Street and the Butter Market.”

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