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Could new flats change Ipswich's run-down Upper Orwell Street?

PUBLISHED: 07:30 31 July 2019

The shops were demolished, leaving space on Upper Orwell Street in 2014. PictureL: DAVE KINDRED

The shops were demolished, leaving space on Upper Orwell Street in 2014. PictureL: DAVE KINDRED

Dave Kindred

Could a new development of one and two-bedroomed flats transform one of the most run-down streets within walking distance of the town centre?

For decades residents have complained about the state of Upper Orwell Street between the Regent Theatre and Orwell Place.

Buildings in the area decayed for years and were eventually demolished five years ago to create a new green open space - but without ruling out the possibility that the area could be redeveloped in the future.

Now Ipswich council has received a planning application to build 12 one-bedroomed and six two-bedroomed flats on two blocks on the site.

They have not yet had any details of the application from Bishop's Stortford-based company Derrivo Limited - and until more details are received it will not be possible to proceed with the application.

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Upper Orwell Street - known by some people in the town as "The Wash" - was once one of the busiest shopping streets in the town with many independent shops.

However its business declined over the years - and many of its buildings were bought by NCP which was planning to incorporate the land into its proposed Mint Quarter development.

That never took off but the buildings and businesses in the street declined because it was seen as an area without a long-term future until it was redeveloped.

By the time NCP and the planners in the town accepted the Mint Quarter would never go ahead, it was too late to revive the oldest and most dilapidated buildings and a block of empty shops and flats was pulled down in 2014 with the area they had occupied being landscaped.

Now the borough is waiting for details about what Derrivo wants to build on the area between 34 and 56 Upper Orwell Street which is still a busy town centre road.

Any new building on the site would be a boost for the area which is also waiting to see the restoration of St Michael's Church on the other side of the road.

The building was seriously damaged by fire eight years ago as it was waiting to be restored by the Jimas Community Project - a Muslim-based organisation aiming to bring the community together. The group is still working on the restoration.

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