Cornhill safe, says council as it looks for new post office tenant

Ipswich council will be carrying out maintenance on the Old Post Office before looking for a new ten

Ipswich council will be carrying out maintenance on the Old Post Office before looking for a new tenant. Picyture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Officials at Ipswich Council have insisted that the Cornhill redevelopment is safe for shoppers and other visitors to the town despite claims there have been a number of accidents with people tripping over the new features.

Meanwhile the council is to step up its efforts to find a new tenant for the Old Post Office on the Cornhill early in the new year.

Council leader David Ellesmere told this week’s full meeting of the borough that officials were only aware of three incidents of people losing their footing on the new Cornhill – and none of these incidents had resulted in a claim against the authority.

He said: “You usually hear about a few incidents when public space is changed like this – when Giles Circus was rebuilt several years ago there were many more incidents and some compensation claims.

“On the Cornhill we identified a potential problem with a small kerb. We have put up a temporary barrier there until we get a new railing fixed. But I think people are getting used to the Cornhill now.”

Work fitting out the new Pret a Manger takeaway in the former Grimwades’ department store is well under way – but there is still no sign of a new tenant being found for the Old Post Office. And that is costing the council £110,000 a year in lost rent according to opposition leader Ian Fisher.

Mr Ellesmere said the council had received a final rent payment from Lloyds which used to be tenant for the building – and that was being used to carry out basic maintenance and repairs to the fabric of the building.

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He said: “We did have a potential tenant lined up earlier this year, but they pulled out. There have since been a couple of firms showing interest but we will start some serious marketing in the new year when we can show it off in the new Cornhill.

“I’m not sure that the building really lends itself to a shop – retailers don’t like the idea of steps to the main entrance – but there are still other users apart from restaurants who might like to have a building with a real presence in a rejuvenated town centre like this.”

However before the Old Post Office building can be fully brought back into use, the building would require significant investment in lifts and other mobility aids to make it compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act.

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