Work on new school on historic Co-op site could start later this year

A visualisation of the proposed new Central Ipswich Primary School and Nursery, on the former Co-op site in Carr Street...

A visualisation of the proposed new Central Ipswich Primary School and Nursery, on the former Co-op site in Carr Street, Ipswich - Credit: Concertus Design and Property Consultants

Work on a new primary school for 420 children on the old Co-op site in Carr Street is planned to start later this year - with the first pupils arriving in September 2023. 

A public consultation is currently under way for the proposed Central Ipswich Primary School and 26-place nursery, to be run by The Active Learning Trust.

Stakeholders have been having their say and initial comments need to be sent in by midnight today (January 8), with further consultation after a proposed planning application in the spring.

A visualisation of the new Central Ipswich Primary School planned for Carr Street, Ipswich, on the site of the former Co-op 

A visualisation of the new Central Ipswich Primary School planned for Carr Street, Ipswich, on the site of the former Co-op - Credit: Concertus Design and Property Consultants

It is proposed to demolish existing buildings on the school site, including the historic Co-op façade, because the existing buildings “do not easily lend themselves to being converted”. But there are plans for the Co-op logo, mosaic, and 'one for all' sign to be "sensitively re-provided on the new building".

It is hoped to start works on the site towards the end of 2021 and open the primary school in September 2023.

A spokesman for The Active Learning Trust said: “The proposal for Central Ipswich Primary School and Nursery has been put together following discussions with Ipswich Borough Council, as the local planning authority. 

“The proposal is now at a stage where we invite local residents, interest groups and the general public to have their say on the plans. The purpose of this consultation is to provide details of the emerging proposals, and to seek feedback to help shape the final planning application.” 

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Stephen Chamberlain, chief executive of the Active Learning Trust, tweeted: "Some positive news amidst all the current challenges - a prospective new member of the ALT family joining our South Suffolk/Ipswich cluster taking our family to 22 schools."

The consultation website says initial proposals concentrated on the refurbishment and alteration of the existing buildings. However, they did not easily lend themselves to being converted into a primary school.  

Footfall has dropped once again for the British high street. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

The former Co-op store in Carr Street - Credit: Archant

Retaining the "locally listed" façade, with a new building constructed behind, was then considered. However, it was felt this would  "significantly compromise the functionality of the new building, and therefore not make the best use of the site, and would also impact upon the learning experience of attending pupils. 

"It would also have significant cost implications. It is therefore considered that the only viable option is to demolish the majority of the existing buildings and construct a new purpose built facility on the site." 

The website adds: "Some elements of the existing buildings, including the Co-op logo, mosaic, and 'one for all' sign, are to be sensitively re-provided on the new building to maintain the link with the site's historic past. 

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central - Credit: Archant

The Department for Education, in conjunction with Suffolk County Council, identified a need for a new primary school in the central Ipswich area.

Active Learning Trust runs a number of schools in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, including Chantry Academy and Gusford, Hillside and Sidegate Primary Schools in Ipswich.

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central, said: "Our view on the school is that it is welcomed." He said the school needed to be part of "a complete reinvention of Carr Street", encouraging more residential focus. 

He felt parents would want to move into the area to be near their children's school, and more residential use would be very helpful to business. 
To see the full proposals and give your comments, visit the consultation website.


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