New blueprint brings radical ideas for Ipswich town centre’s future

CGI of proposal for Lloyds Avenue
Picture: ALLIES AND MORRISON/IPSWICH CENTRAL

CGI of proposal for Lloyds Avenue Picture: ALLIES AND MORRISON/IPSWICH CENTRAL - Credit: Archant

Could Lloyds Avenue be transformed into a traffic-free haven for pavement cafes and Wolsey’s Gate become the centre of a pedestrianised Waterfront square?

CGI of College Street
Picture: ALLIES AND MORRISON/IPSWICH CENTRAL

CGI of College Street Picture: ALLIES AND MORRISON/IPSWICH CENTRAL - Credit: Archant

They are just two of the ideas proposed by a new blueprint commissioned by Ipswich Central to look at ways of re-inventing the heart of the town as the shape of retailing continues to evolve.

The blueprint has been drawn up by nationally-renowned architects and urban planners Allies and Morrison – and contains 10 main features.

These include boosting four routes between the town centre and the riverside/Waterfront: Princes Street, St Peter’s Street, Upper and Lower Brook Street, and Fore Street/Lower Orwell Street.

It also recommends using the opportunity of the opening of the Upper Orwell Crossing to close the Key Street/College Street section of the gyratory system to traffic to allow better integration between the town centre and Waterfront.

CGI of the Riverside Park
Picture: ALLIES AND MORRISON/IPSWICH CENTRAL

CGI of the Riverside Park Picture: ALLIES AND MORRISON/IPSWICH CENTRAL - Credit: Archant


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And there are also radical plans to create a new Riverside Park between the Stoke Bridge and the Princes Street bridge.

Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter said he did not expect all the recommendations to be taken up – certainly not in the foreseeable future – but he felt there were good ideas in the proposals which could transform part of the town centre.

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He said: “I am very excited by the ambitious suggestions that Allies and Morrison have put forward for Ipswich, their 10 ideas match perfectly with the aims and aspirations that the board of Ipswich Central have for our town and our levy payers.

“It is inspiring to know that a world-renowned urban planner has seen such potential in our town. I am keen to see how these proposals can be reviewed, debated and developed with our Ipswich Vision partners and to feed into future master plans for our town.”

Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Antony Rifkin from Allies and Morrison says: “There is no doubt that Ipswich is brimming with potential and the ‘Ideas for Ipswich’ document seeks to identify this opportunity in a coherent manner.

“We hoped to have revealed opportunities to bring to life Ipswich’s distinctive historic fabric, repairing the streetscape and creating public spaces full of life and activity. Conserving the heart of Ipswich will provide the basis for future investment.”

Lloyds Avenue could become a leisure magnet

One of the key proposals of the blueprint is that Lloyds Avenue should be pedestrianised and the lower section should be used for outdoor dining as in continental cities.

The ground floor of Debenhams facing on to Lloyds Avenue is not open to the street as it once was, and with department stores nationally looking a new ways of using their space the report suggests that new restaurants with tables outside on a pedestrianised street could turn this into a lively area.

It could also see some of the offices turned into flats to increase the number of people living in the heart of the town and provide a lively link between the bus station, car park and Cornhill.

Could cars be banished from part of Waterfront to create new square?

Perhaps the most radical proposals are in the Waterfront/Riverside area where the blueprint proposes closing Key Street and College Street, pushing two-way traffic into Star Lane once the Upper Orwell Crossings open.

This is not a new idea. It first surfaced in the 1990s but was shunted into the “too difficult” file by planners as the traffic in the town centre got worse. Now the blueprint says it would allow the creation of a new St Peter’s Square and putting Wolsey’s Gate at the heart of the town’s landscape.

They also suggest a long-term aim of “moving” the leisure hub of Cardinal Park across Grafton Way into a new Riverside Park that would have open spaces and leisure areas on both sides of the Orwell – which could be dammed to create an urban lake that is not changed by the tide.

However that is a proposal that could take many years, or even decades, to see the light of day.

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