Ipswich: Hotel complex on its way to the waterfront

An exciting development which could bring employment and brand new facilities to a riverside hotspot has been pitched to town planners.

Developers want to transform a 380-space car park at Orwell Quay, bringing a new hotel, apartments, a health club and more to the waterfront.

But there is a hurdle to cross before the latest phase of the waterfront development can get underway – the company behind the bid, London Provincial and Overseas Ltd, has gone into administration since embarking on the planning application process.

The application is now being handled by the administrators, BDO, who are hoping planners will give the go ahead to the 14-storey, multi-million pound complex.

Under plans submitted to Ipswich Borough Council’s planning committee, the complex would include three buildings – the first housing a 90-bed hotel and two others consisting of a total of 200 flats – plus there would be a health club, office space, several shops and cafes and a car park.

Although the waterfront has been at the centre of Ipswich’s regeneration strategy in recent years and seen some radical changes, much of the work ground to a halt when the recession hit, leaving dozens of empty shells and projects half completed.

News that things could be looking up for the area has been met with cheer from residents and interest groups.

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John Norman, vice chairman of the Ipswich Society, said: “What’s clearly required on the waterfront is mixed-use development.

“It’s getting to be a vibrant community in its own right with a lot of activities and a range of people using it. It can only get better and I think this development will add to that greatly.

“The area has its difficulties with buildings that have come to a grinding halt but that’s very similar to most other towns of this size that were undergoing a boom in late 2007 or early 2008.

“We saw it all before in the early ‘90s on Docklands, and I’m sure it will all come right in a year or two.”

He added: “I think we need to keep on going with the mix of buildings – maybe get an outdoor theatre space down there where performances can take place.

“That needs careful balancing because it could create noise which is not always acceptable to everybody, but it would be a wonderful facility.”

Architects say the new complex would have a contemporary appearance, using modern materials like metal cladding and glazed curtain walling, and would also reflect its heritage with elements of the area’s shipping industry incorporated in the shape of the buildings.

Stuart Grimwade, director of the Ipswich Maritime Trust, said: “The dock was very run down and it’s been of huge benefit to Ipswich to have seen it improved in such a wonderful way.

“It’s a very positive thing to see the redevelopment continuing. It’s a rather ugly gap at the moment.

“Redevelopment of that area is a good thing in principle, but we would be concerned to see Orwell Quay retained as the last remaining deep water quay for visiting historic ships.”

He added: “The long term future will depend on what’s going to happen to the island site in the middle of the dock. As a trust, we’re very keen to see something made of that and we would very much like to think it’s possible to have that redevelopment scheme done in such a way that the maritime industries there are retained.”

The application will be put to the borough council’s planning committee at a meeting on Wednesday, when councillors will hear the full details of the plan for the first time.

A council spokesman said: “While we can’t talk about the specific application, we are hopeful that the market will be more buoyant.

“The waterfront has lots to offer in terms of accommodation, office space, restaurants and of course the new university and we’re sure the regeneration will continue to make the waterfront an attraction in its own right.

“We’re also looking forward to the Maritime Festival in August, which we hope will be a big draw for those in the area and get people in from outside.”

To view the proposals, visit www.ipswich.gov.uk and follow links to the planning portal.