Ipswich Cornhill should get final go-ahead for redevelopment to start

Architects' impression of the new look for Ipswich Cornhill. The view from the Post Office showing t

Architects' impression of the new look for Ipswich Cornhill. The view from the Post Office showing the water feature. Picture: Ipswich Vision - Credit: Archant

Proposals to redevelop Ipswich Cornhill and turn it into a showpiece for the town centre look set to be approved by planners this week.

Ipswich Cornhill. Picture Sarah Lucy Brown

Ipswich Cornhill. Picture Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant

That should allow work to start on the project in January next year – and the new-look Cornhill should be ready in time for the Christmas lights switch-on in 2018.

The proposal is set to be discussed by the borough’s planning and development committee on Wednesday. Planning officers are urging members to vote in favour of the council-proposed scheme.

The original plan to level off the Cornhill to improve access to the Town Hall was dropped after objections from members of the public and Historic England which was concerned that it would reduce the impact of the Victorian Town Hall building.

The new proposals have attracted much less criticism, and borough leader David Ellesmere said if permission was granted, work could start on preparing for the redevelopment.

Architects' impression of the new look for Ipswich Cornhill. Picture: Ipswich Vision

Architects' impression of the new look for Ipswich Cornhill. Picture: Ipswich Vision - Credit: Archant

He said: “We cannot take anything for granted about Wednesday’s meeting, but if it is given the go-ahead we would then be in a position to go out to tender to find a company to do the work.

“The materials could be ordered in time to start work early in the new year and get it finished in time for Christmas – that would be a great improvement for the town centre.”

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He said the fact that the new proposals had gone down well with the public was very important.

The need to improve the Cornhill first came to public attention when former Marks and Spencer chief executive Lord Stuart Rose described the area as “depressing” during the Ipswich Vision conference in 2012.

Architects' impression of the new look for Ipswich Cornhill - the sculpture should be lit at night.

Architects' impression of the new look for Ipswich Cornhill - the sculpture should be lit at night. Picture: Ipswich Vision - Credit: Archant

Since then finding a way to improve the Cornhill has been top of the “to do” list for the Ipswich Vision partners led by the borough council.

There is a budget of £3.2m for the improvements – from Ipswich council, Suffolk County Council, and funds freed up by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership in association with Ipswich Central.

The Cornhill should get a new look – and there will be space for the market stalls when it is complete.

During the construction period the market stalls will move to other nearby areas of the town centre including the newly-pedestrianised Queen Street area.