Ipswich: Arts chief warns of space issues for performers at Corn Exchange if plans for Waitrose go ahead

ipswich: Performers at one of the town’s most popular venues must be protected if plans for a new supermarket get the green light, according to the chairman of Ipswich Arts Association.

Upmarket retailer Waitrose recently applied to Ipswich Borough Council’s planning committee for permission to open a store at the Corn Exchange, which would see the venue house the supermarket while continuing to play host to some of the town’s biggest music and film events.

But Professor Chris Green, also a renowned conductor with the Trianon Music Group, raised concerns about the floor space which would be given to the supermarket, leaving performers with less room than at present.

“At first glance, it does seem that the plans that have been submitted are for a larger area of floor space than we had originally anticipated,” said the 68-year-old.

“The backstage facilities at the Corn Exchange are already pretty awful. There’s nothing you can do about it – the place is 200 years old – but they have got to look at the performers’ interests as much as the audience experience.

“A lot of groups have already found alternative venues, so if we add to that the experience of coming into a place and finding there’s not enough room to swing a cat, we will put people off even more.”

Prof Green said he recognised the need for new investment and some developments, such as the proposal to reopen the Princes Street entrance, could benefit all venue users.

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Councillor Bryony Rudkin, culture portfolio holder, said: “We have been meeting with regular users of the Corn Exchange including the Ipswich Arts Association representatives, and we’re looking at ways of opening up other space in the building and in the Town Hall site.

“We are very aware of the issues that Professor Green raises, and we look forward to working with him to find a solution that is to everyone’s satisfaction.”

n What do you think of the proposals? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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