Debenhams boss gives warm welcome to new look for Ipswich Cornhill

Ipswich Debenhams manager Neil Roberts. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ipswich Debenhams manager Neil Roberts. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The boss of the largest store in Ipswich town centre has welcomed the long-awaited start of work on the Cornhill reconstruction.

Neil Roberts is manager of Debenhams, whose entrance is on to the Cornhill, and said the work should give a big boost to the whole town centre.

He said: “The plans look fantastic and now that they’re getting under way with the work, we all can’t wait to see what it looks like once it is finished in October.”

Contractors Brooks and Wood are now working to remove all the street furniture on the Cornhill before they start removing the brick paving put down in the 1980s.

The two trees outside the Old Post Office have now been removed – they will be replaced by five new trees when the work is complete in October – and the seats and street maps are now being removed before being replaced by new street furniture once the new paving is completed.

Pedestrians are no longer able to walk through the middle of the Cornhill, they have to go around one of the sides of the square, and the wire mesh fence is to be replaced by solid panels within the next two weeks.

They are currently being prepared – they will include a panoramic image of the Cornhill so the panels do not make the area feel too claustrophobic while the work is being carried out.

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Ipswich Central, which represents business in the heart of the town – including the retail sector – is one of the key players in the moves to rebuild the Cornhill.

Terry Baxter, Chair of Ipswich Central: “This is an important moment in the regeneration of our town centre. It is a statement of intent that Ipswich is a town with ambition, a town ready to face the challenges of promoting its retail and commercial core by investing in the iconic Cornhill.

“I’m extremely proud that our Vision partners have remained focussed on delivering this exciting project.”

The work, including installing a new water feature and a public art, is due to be completed in nine months – to be ready by the end of October in time for the new Cornhill to be the focus of the town’s festive season celebrations.

A decision will be made then on whether the market should return to the Cornhill, or remain in Princes Street and Queen Street – its new home from this week.