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Arras Square in Ipswich set to get a new look in bid to boost town centre

PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 March 2019

Ipswich council is keen to improve Arras Square outside the Buttermarket Centre. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Ipswich council is keen to improve Arras Square outside the Buttermarket Centre. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Ipswich council is set to start its programme of improving the town centre by repairing and updating Arras Square - after making improvements to that area came top in two public polls.

Arras Square beside the Buttermarket Centre and St Stephen's Church is seriously showing its age. Picture: PAUL GEATERArras Square beside the Buttermarket Centre and St Stephen's Church is seriously showing its age. Picture: PAUL GEATER

However the work might not start until the end of this year, or even the start of 2020, because it still has to go through the planning process.

The council has put aside £3millon to improve the town centre and identified four projects that could be undertaken with that cash – but asked the public what order they would like to see them completed.

Improving Arras Square, outside the refurbished Buttermarket Centre, came top in both the borough’s official poll and in an online poll organised by this newspaper. The cost of this scheme has not been formally assessed but is expected to be about £1m.

It came ahead of plans to improve Major’s Corner, pave the bottom of Lloyds Avenue, and improve Princes’ Street Bridge outside the town’s railway station.

The borough is also looking at smaller improvement schemes suggested by people who took part in the consultation – including Norwich Road/St Matthews Street, Carr Street, Upper Orwell Street, St Helen’s Street and Fore Street.

Borough council leader David Ellesmere told this newspaper: “Arras Square was a clear winner in both our consultation and your online poll, so that is what we are looking to get on with first.”

The council’s executive is to start the process at next week’s meeting by asking officials to draw up a plan of improvement and work out a timescale and detailed costings.

This will then go out to public consultation later in the year before planning permission is sought.

Mr Ellesmere said: “This is the start of the process and it will be several months before work can start because we have to go through the planning process – and then we could run into the winter, which could delay things further. But Arras Square is clearly the area most people want to see improved.”

The council is, however, planning to reduce some of the trees in the square which have grown unchecked over recent years. Some have roots which are undermining the pavement and risk causing structural damage to St Stephen’s Church, which is now the home of the Ipswich tourist information centre.

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