Ipswich: Arts association claims Waitrose bid for Corn Exchange would be a “death wish” for the venue

ipswich: Developing a Waitrose store in the ground floor of the Corn Exchange would be “a death wish for the place.”

That was the bleak assessment today from Professor Christopher Green from the Ipswich Arts Association.

The supermarket giant is in talks with the borough council about converting the Gatsby’s area and part of the Robert Cross Hall into a small town-centre supermarket. This would be in addition to the proposed superstore on the site of the old Crane factory in Nacton Road.

However Prof Green warned that changing the ground floor of the Corn Exchange would make it unviable for major events in the Grand Hall and at the Ipswich Film Theatre.

Prof Green said: “There are already space problems at the Corn Exchange when there are major events. If you lose the Robert Cross Hall what will happen for people who want to go to the bar? What about reaching the toilets?

“This is a very bad idea. It would be a death wish for the place!”

The Grand Hall is used by the Trianon music group for major concerts and the lack of backstage space means that members sometimes have to use Gatsby’s to store their music cases during performances.

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Andrew Cann, borough councillor with responsibility for culture and leisure, wish-ed Prof Green had discussed his concerns with officials before making them public.

He said: “It is not the proposal to eat into the bar area. You need the space there to get to the toilets and for general circulation. I am surprised and disappointed that Prof Green has chosen to make a statement without finding out all the details about the proposals.”

He said the council would never do anything that would threaten the viability of the Grand Hall or the IFT.

n Would Waitrose be good for the Corn Exchange? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstar letters@eveningstar.co.uk

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