Cornhill petition too late to stop work - Ipswich council leader Ellesmere
PUBLISHED: 15:30 06 February 2018
An online petition calling for the refurbishment work at Ipswich Cornhill to be suspended before being reviewed has attracted more than 3,000 signatures so far.
But borough council leader David Ellesmere said it has come too late to stop the work – and he remains confident most people will like the Cornhill’s new look when it is finished.
The petition on the change.org website was put up by Dan Lansley, and says: “Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) have unilaterally committed to spending £3.6M on broadly unpopular and controversial changes to the Ipswich Cornhill area.
“The character and utility of this historic public square will be irreversibly changed, by a poorly conceived project destined to become a multi-million pound white elephant.”
It calls on the current plans to be halted and for a revised vision with more public support to be drawn up.
However Mr Ellesmere said there had already been five years of consultations – and public representations had been taken into account before the final scheme was approved by planners.
He said; “If anyone really wanted to stop this work, they should have launched the petition before the contracts were signed and work had started. If we were to stop now we would still have to pay for this and would end up with nothing – that would be a waste of money!”
The borough had not done anything unilaterally, it was a partnership with Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Central, and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership – with the borough contributing about a quarter of the total cost of the scheme.
Mr Ellesmere added: “We had a design competition. Asked for views from the public. Came up with a plan. Put that to consultation. Made changes. Put it through the planning process with more consultations. There were plenty of opportunities for people to express their concerns before now.”
The new Cornhill would have an arch sculpture near the Pret A Manger shop with some benches to allow people to eat sandwiches outside – but it would not prevent the Cornhill from being used for major civic events and he felt most people would like the new look of the town centre once it was finished.
The work is due to be formally started on Wednesday with a short ceremony on the Cornhill.