Ipswich to get £5m prefab – to park 500 cars

David Ellesmere in Crown Car Park

David Ellesmere in Crown Car Park

Ipswich council is set to spend £5million on a new prefabricated Crown multi-storey car park.

Two new levels will be built on just over half the existing surface car park – creating a 400/500-space multi-storey with a further 100 spaces on the surface in the High Street side of the site.

The structure would be created from prefabricated sections that would be built in a factory and assembled on site – and the news has been welcomed by the team behind the new Sailmakers shopping centre.

It would be expected to have a life of 40 years – which is actually five years longer than the “permanent” multi-storey lasted on the site before it had to be demolished in 2009 because of structural problems.

The borough council’s executive committee is expected to give its approval to the proposal at its meeting next Tuesday. If it gets the go-ahead the park will be ordered within a few months and the parts fabricated ready to be assembled in a year’s time.

Work assembling the park would start in February and would be expected to take about 20 weeks – allowing it to open during the summer of 2017, well before the Christmas season.

Ipswich Council leader David Ellesmere said the proposal was a compromise between the council’s original two options – a single-tier prefrabricated platform over the existing park costing £3.5m and providing just under 500 spaces, or a traditionally-built four-storey park for 900 vehicles costing £10m.

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He said: “We could not make the traditional car park stack up financially and this proposal is a very good compromise.

“It will be a very high-quality park with security lighting, power points for electric vehicles and modern payment machines meaning you won’t have to carry loads of cash.”

Mr Ellesmere said the pedestrian entrance to the park would be improved – the tunnel next to Crown Pools would be swept away – and he hoped that there could be new signs directing drivers to the park.

Senior councillors had visited a similar car park currently being built at Rose Lane in Norwich and were impressed by the way it was coming together.

The news of the new park was welcomed by Ipswich Central, which represents retailers and other businesses in the heart of the town.

Its chief executive Paul Clement said: “New and better car parking is important to improving the town centre. This is good news, another step towards achieving the Vision for Ipswich.”

A spokesman for Sailmakers Shopping Centre – formerly Tower Ramparts – said: “The proposal for a new car park with increased capacity is great news for the town at a time when Ipswich is undergoing an exciting period of growth and development.

“We are pleased with Ipswich Borough Council’s plans for a new car park serving this area of the town centre and we know there is significant demand for parking here.

“The redevelopment of Sailmakers Shopping Centre and other initiatives are making Ipswich an increasingly attractive place to visit and we need the infrastructure to make the town more accessible and car parking is an important part of that.”

They have prepared an artists impression showing the possible new pedestrian entrance to the car park.