Inspirational landmark for region

A £25 MILLION landmark could be developed at the heart of Ipswich Waterfront which would be “an inspiration to the whole region,” The Evening Star can reveal today.

A £25 MILLION landmark could be developed at the heart of Ipswich Waterfront which would be “an inspiration to the whole region,” The Evening Star can reveal today.

Ipswich Borough Council is hoping to create a cultural hub within the Waterfront development which would attract people to the town and increase community opportunities - and they are calling on residents to give their ideas about what they want to see.

The council is in the process of applying for a lottery grant to fund the scheme and the public are being consulted on what landmark they would like.

Should the project be successful, it would have the potential to attract thousands of visitors to Ipswich.

Suggestions so far include a learning zone based on a smaller version of London's Science Museum, an arts centre and a canoeing club.

Lawrence Collins, Ipswich Borough Council director, said: “It is a superb opportunity for Ipswich because we could have something really great for the community which would stand out.

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“The Waterfront is the jewel in the crown of Ipswich in terms of regeneration.”

Funding would come from the Big Lottery Fund, through their Living Landmarks scheme.

The fund supports projects that improve community learning and involvement, and promote community safety and well-being.

Project leader Karen Tucciarone is currently visiting forum meetings across Ipswich to get ideas from the public on what they would like to see developed.

Ideas from the first of these meetings, in south west Ipswich, included developing a sports hall, an aquarium or a large youth club.

But Mr Collins said these projects were too small and instead believes Ipswich should be aiming for a project with regional significance.

He said: “We would love to see something built up around the theme of music, especially to embrace how music is made and the youth of today and making something relevant for them.

“One of the suggestions we have had is for an active learning zone, for all ages, with a hands-on, practical approach - like a small version of the Science Museum.

“That is an absolutely brilliant idea and fits in with Living Landmarks nicely and the idea about music can fit in too.

“It also provides us with the idea of actually working closely with the Science Museum and the national museums in London. They are looking for opportunities to work with provincial museums.

The exact location of the development has not yet been decided but the council is working with Associated British Ports (ABP) to try to reach an agreement.

Ipswich council is currently in the process of preparing a bid to the lottery for a grant of between £10m and £25m.

About 150 bids are expected to be submitted under the Living Landmarks scheme and only about six of these will be awarded grants.

Mr Collins believes Ipswich is in a good position as councils in Norwich, Colchester and Cambridge are not thought to be bidding.

Scott Dolling, destination marketing manager for Suffolk Tourism Partnership, welcomed the news.

He said: “Ipswich and wider Suffolk can both benefit from increased awareness surrounding our cultural heritage and tourism offer.

“A landmark attraction that demonstrates what is distinctive about our area would help raise that profile and be a real positive step for our county town.”

But some concerns have been raised about access and parking should the project go ahead.

Bob Feltwell, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “It would be a very positive development for Ipswich providing that the local authorities allow the infrastructure to be developed and the parking to be developed.

“If they put up a centre that will really attract people, it's got to have real public car parking.

“We would welcome the project and wish it every success.”

N The borough council is now asking for your views on what should be developed at the Waterfront.

All ideas need to be submitted by the end of November to give the council time to complete their bid, which must be received by the lottery by January 6, 2006.

Ideas should be sent to: Karen Tucciarone, Civic Centre, Civic Drive, Ipswich IP1 2EE.

N What do you think should be developed at the Waterfront? Write to: Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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