Ipswich Cornhill rebuild confirmed – work to start next year

An architects impression of the proposed new look for Ipswich Cornhill

An architects impression of the proposed new look for Ipswich Cornhill - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Cornhill is to get a £3.3m makeover after its final funding package was agreed.

The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership agreed to provide £1.6m finance for the work which will be added to funding already agreed by Ipswich and Suffolk councils.

That should mean work on the project can start in the middle of next year – with completion by summer 2018.

Much of the new-look Cornhill will be levelled, with easy access into the main entrance of the Town Hall with no need to go up steps.

The new space created should encourage pavement cafes and provide a more attractive heart for the town.

While the work is being carried out market stalls will have to move. Some will be found space in Queen Street where pedestrianisation work should be complete by the end of this year and others will be allocated space elsewhere in the town centre.

The final design will be based on a proposal chosen more than two years ago, but there will be some significant changes.

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The increased cost means that a tower that was designed as a new focal point for the Cornhill will not now be built.

The final design will be decided later this year after another round of public consultation.

The redesign is the most high-profile project from the Ipswich Vision partnership – and was conceived after Suffolk-based retail guru Lord Stuart Rose described the Cornhill as “The most depressing place I have ever seen.”

The former head of Marks and Spencer made the comments at a conference in the town in 2012, and has played an active role in trying to find a way of improving the area.

Mark Pendlington, chairman of the New Anglia LEP said: “For centuries, the Cornhill has been at the heart of trade, culture and leisure activity for the community in Ipswich.

“We now have this golden opportunity to keep up that tradition while creating a vibrant town centre that will be the catalyst to attract new retailer and leisure businesses back into the town.

“This is only possible because of the way Ipswich Central, Ben Gummer, UCS, the Chambers, Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council have worked together to make it happen.

“I am delighted the LEP board has agreed to back these plans it marks yet another exciting step forward in the regeneration of Suffolk’s county town.”

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