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First look at major revamp plans for Ipswich Waterfront Burton's factory

PUBLISHED: 09:09 20 June 2019

A CGI image of what the new-look Burtons arts and media hub could look like. Picture: DAN FISHER

A CGI image of what the new-look Burtons arts and media hub could look like. Picture: DAN FISHER

Dan Fisher

An iconic mainstay of Ipswich Waterfront could get a new lease of life as a media and arts hub, it has been revealed, after two decades as an eyesore.

The former Burtons building on Ipswich Waterfront has been in a state of disrepair for years. Picture: :UCY TAYLORThe former Burtons building on Ipswich Waterfront has been in a state of disrepair for years. Picture: :UCY TAYLOR

The former Burton's factory has been empty for more than 20 years, and was snapped up by Ipswich Borough Council in 2015 for £210,000.

Now, the council's leader David Ellesmere has unveiled the plans for the space to be transformed into a hub for arts and media organisations, subject to funding and planning permission being secured.

Internationally renowned theatre company Gecko is being lined up as the first tenant, while the county's film office Screen Suffolk is understood to also be keen to move in.

A CGI image of what the new-look Burtons arts and media hub could look like. Picture: DAN FISHERA CGI image of what the new-look Burtons arts and media hub could look like. Picture: DAN FISHER

Digital and tech start ups will also join the facility along with a ground floor cafe or restaurant.

Mr Ellesmere said: "I think the architects have come up with a really innovative design.

"We can see the Winerack and we are starting to see the Waterfront getting to where we want it to be.

Gecko theatre comapny is the first tenant being lined up for the new arts and media hub in the old Burton's building. Picture: RICHARD HAUGHTONGecko theatre comapny is the first tenant being lined up for the new arts and media hub in the old Burton's building. Picture: RICHARD HAUGHTON

"If we can secure Gecko here working with DanceEast it does create more of a vibe here."

Mr Ellesmere said a planning application would be submitted within a few weeks, while external funding sources are also required to make the project happen.

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Talks with the local enterprise partnership and other funding streams have already begun, while Gecko is submitting a bid for Arts Council England funding.

Gecko has been based in Ipswich for 10 years, but currently relies on renting spaces.

Among its work has been creating the new visuals for the new Chemical Brothers tour, and live productions filmed by the BBC.

Gecko artistic director Amit Lahav. Picture: RICH RUSKGecko artistic director Amit Lahav. Picture: RICH RUSK

Artistic director Amit Lahav said if the company could secure the space, which would be used for rehearsals, show creation and production, offices, workshops and classes, it would be a "gamechanger".

"I think this will be a revolutionary space that people will be interested in all over the country," he said.

"We could have conversations with all sorts of places but we want to be here.

Interior of the old Burton's building on the Ipswich Waterfront. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNInterior of the old Burton's building on the Ipswich Waterfront. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"This will breed a sense of confidence and celebration [in Ipswich's arts scene].

"We have the opportunity to work with our community and celebrate where we are, and make a real thing about that.

"To have it surrounded and used by people from around the world, and work with people here, it's celebrating that Ipswich has got something amazing."

The old Burton's building on Ipswich Waterfront has been in a state of disrepair for some time. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe old Burton's building on Ipswich Waterfront has been in a state of disrepair for some time. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

It follows work by Suffolk Highways this year to repave St Peter's Wharf, put in benches and trees and resurface the road.

A county council spokesman confirmed that project was on course to finish by the end of the month.

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