Gallery: New hope for redevelopment of former St Peter’s site at gateway to Ipswich Waterfront

David Ellesmere, leader of the Ipswich Borough Council, talks about development at the RW Paul build

David Ellesmere, leader of the Ipswich Borough Council, talks about development at the RW Paul building on the Ipswich waterfront. - Credit: Su Anderson

Ipswich Council is to step in to redevelop the site seen as vital to the future of the Waterfront.

The blazing building at Ipswich docks. Picture by Jerry Turner in April 2000

The blazing building at Ipswich docks. Picture by Jerry Turner in April 2000

It is preparing to buy the site of the former St Peter’s Warehouse – which was destroyed by fire in 2000 – and the neighbouring Paul’s Maltings.

And if it is unsuccessful in its negotiations with the current owners it is prepared to take out a compulsory purchase order.

If it can negotiate with the owners, work could start at the end of next year. If a CPO is the only way of getting the project underway, construction is unlikely to start until 2016.

The two pieces of land have separate owners, but are both represented by the same agent.

The former warehouse site – currently used as a temporary car park – has a price tag of £1.5 million while the silo is on the market for £1 million.

However the cost of preparing the land – it would require an extensive archeological dig and flood protection work – means the sites themselves have little value.

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Borough council leader David Ellesmere said he hoped the council would be able to negotiate with the current owners, but was preparing the paperwork for a CPO.

He said: “We will be looking at building 60-65 flats about commercial premises on the ground floor – shops, restaurants or a visitor centre. We shall have a design competition for the site.

“Because this will be a regeneration project the flats will be for sale on the market – we would not be building them as council homes.”

To obtain a CPO the council would have to prove that there is a scheme ready to go ahead and that finance was in place.

Mr Ellesmere said this had already been sorted out and he was determined to push ahead with the project. It is due to be discussed by next month’s meeting of the borough’s executive.

He said: “This is a vital site for the Waterfront. Once it is redeveloped there will be an attractive entrance to the area. We are not looking for an intensive development, but we do want something that catches the eye – in a good sense.”

The proposal has all-party support. Ipswich MP Ben Gummer – who will be challenged by Mr Ellesmere next May – said: “This is great news, it’s just what I’ve been urging them to do and I really hope they get on with it.

“That site needs a stunning building and I really hope this will fit the bill – certainly from what I’ve heard they are looking for the right thing.”

The move also has the support of the Ipswich Partnership which is trying to regenerate the town – and Ipswich Central which represents the business community at its heart.

Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter said: “Anything that improves the connectivity between the town centre and the Waterfront is good for the town, and this proposal is something that our members will broadly welcome.”