Crumbling car park faces demolition

IPSWICH: Crumbling Crown Street multi-storey car park will almost certainly be demolished, it emerged today.

IPSWICH: Crumbling Crown Street multi-storey car park will almost certainly be demolished, it emerged today.

A decision on whether the facility should be closed permanently before Christmas will be taken next week - but its longer term future appears doomed.

Councillors will have to make a judgement on whether it is worth endangering public safety to keep it open to cope with the town centre festive shopping onslaught.

The council's executive on Tuesday will receive a detailed risk assessment, which will assess the health and safety implications of allowing the 1,000-place car park to remain in operation, but with the top floors closed.

It was closed on October 16 after a safety inspection discovered cracked ramp edges over fail safe supports on the upper floors and honeycombed concrete with significant reinforcement oxidization on two ramps.

Even if it is considered safe to reopen for the Christmas rush, Crown Street is expected to be demolished next year, permanently shutting on March 31 and replaced in the short-term with a surface level car park.

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Repairs have been on-going since 2007 following a report from structural engineers, which found there was no realistic practical scheme to extend the life of the car park beyond next year.

Council director Russell Williams, in a report to next week's executive, said: “Crown Street car park's useful life in its current state has basically expired. Deciding to close the car park is a major decision, but it is one that needs to be made.”

Mr Williams says that since problems were first discovered in 1986, the council extended Crown Street's life by undertaking a lengthy and successful maintenance regime but the authority knew it would have to close at some point.

Opposition councillors have accused the administration of doing nothing in the past four years to plan for the future of Crown Street. Labour group leader David Ellesmere said: “Its dithering is going to cost council tax payers and town centre retailers dear in the coming months.”

Should the car park be knocked down and rebuilt? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail