Fears grow over car park's future
Retailers and shoppers were today learning to cope with life without the town's biggest car park - as fears emerged that it may be closed for good.
IPSWICH: Retailers and shoppers were today learning to cope with life without the town's biggest car park - as fears emerged that it may be closed for good.
The Crown Car Park was built in the early 1970s - and has suffered from structural problems since the 1980s.
Concrete cancer was discovered in the building in 1985 and a long-term programme of repair and maintenance was introduced.
This forced the closure of several of the storeys of the building while the work was undertaken at different times - and there were warnings that the building would only have a life of about 30 years.
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The 1001-space car park opened in 1972. When major work was done in the early 1990s it was said this should extend its life until 2010 - but we are now less than three months away from that deadline.
The future of the car park should become clearer early this week when engineers are able to carry out a more detailed survey of the building.
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Ipswich council leader Liz Harsant said: “At the moment we are in the hands of the experts. The decision to close the car park was taken by the chief executive, and was absolutely right on health and safety grounds.
“Obviously it is a big blow to the town, especially as we are approaching the Christmas season, and it would be good if they found the situation was not that serious.
“But we cannot take any risks with safety and the car park will only reopen if we are totally satisfied that it is safe.”
In recent years there were proposals to redevelop the car park site, along with the neighbouring Crown Pools, as part of an ambitious development of a new swimming pool in Portman Road.
But this fell victim to the recession and the decision was taken to refurbish Crown Pools instead.
The future of the car park is due to be discussed at Ipswich council's executive meeting in early November.