Wish-list for the future of Ipswich is agreed ahead of £25m funding bid
- Credit: Su Anderson
A wish-list for the future of Ipswich has been agreed – with two more projects added as a result of a public consultation.
The Ipswich Town Deal board is bidding for £25m of government cash to transform the town, and asked the public for feedback on a series of suggested schemes.
The final list has now been agreed after around 2,000 responses from the public – ranging from a revamp of the gateway to the waterfront, to creating an Ipswich regeneration fund.
And it includes two new projects suggested by the public – a new “green route” between the town centre and Waterfront, and an indoor food hall.
But two existing proposals have been scrapped – the extension the riverside cycle path into the town centre and creation of a new green area between Princes Street and Portman Road.
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There is still a list of 15 potential projects – and board members are hopeful that they can all be achieved within a the £25m budget. But detailed costings have to be prepared before the final bid is submitted to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government by December 11.
The three most popular proposals are: revitalising the Waterfront Gateway between Stoke Bridge and St Peter’s Quay, completing the restoration of the Old Post Office to make it ready for its probable new use as a restaurant, and establishing an Ipswich Regeneration Fund to provide funds to support the rebirth of buildings that need a new use.
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The two new proposals would see a new indoor food hall created in the town centre to give space to stallholders to sell local produce and the board is supporting the Ipswich Oasis Project’s aim to plant more trees and create new green walking routes in the town centre and Waterfront.
Board chair Terry Hunt said: “ We have been through all the proposals again and seen the public feedback. We had about 2,000 responses through the Star and EADT, the borough council and the board itself. I’d like to thank everyone who took part.
“The two new schemes had widespread support from the public. We dropped the proposals for the open space near Portman Road and extending the cycle route from the river to the town centre. That involved too many landowners and there is reasonable cycle path along West End Road.”
Over the next few weeks there will have to be a more detailed look at the costings – and if these do come out higher than currently anticipated, the number of schemes could have to be pared back.
Mr Hunt said: “If it turns out that it is unaffordable it would be better to reduce the number of projects rather than cutting corners on everything.”
The 15 projects included in the Town Deal Bid:
• Ipswich Oasis – a greener town centre ( put forward by the public).
Two-mile circular green trail linking the town centre and the Waterfront. This includes trees, plants, containers and “living walls.” Businesses and residents will be encouraged to enhance their outside environments. Supporting businesses will be listed on the green trail map, which will also highlight significant landmarks. A survey of pavements and streets will explore new opportunities for enhancing public areas with planting and associated traffic calming.
• Indoor food hall (put forward by the public)
This is a new retail concept for Ipswich, operating a minimum of six days a week and focusing on the sale of fresh, Suffolk-grown food and drink. It will feature individual stalls and will have plenty of space for a cafe providing local produce. It will complement the existing outdoor market. A significant town centre ground floor space will be secured to provide at least 15 stalls at launch, with room for expansion.
• Maritime skills academy
In partnership with internationally renowned Spirit Yachts, this project will create a world-leading academy, teaching the next generation of craftsmen and women all aspects of modern yacht construction .
• Town centre music venue
This will see the creation of a mid-sized music venue using vacant space in the town centre. The Music Venue Trust says Ipswich is the largest town without such a venue.
• Digital town centre
This project will enhance the town centre experience using technology. Before travelling to the town centre, you will be able to book parking, restaurant, theatre, cinema. You will be able to access digital trails, discovering Ipswich’s hidden gems.
• Waterfront gateway– including former Paul’s silo
This will create an attractive entrance to the Waterfront. The former Paul’s silo will be decontaminated and a climbing wall installed. The pedestrian crossing will move to the natural walking line, and a pleasant public space will be created next to the Novotel roundabout.
• Integrated care academy – University of Suffolk
This will help deliver a highly skilled graduate workforce – each year providing 200 qualified nurses, 20 physiotherapists, and 50 paramedics.
• Local shopping parades regeneration
This will help renovate the facades of local shops, improve pedestrian access, create better parking, and enable tree planting. It will make our local shopping parades more attractive places to visit.
• Pedestrian/cycle bridge at Waterfront
This will complete a circular route around Ipswich Wet Dock by allowing public access across the lock to the Island site, thus creating a new Maritime Mile trail. It will help regenerate the Island site, including building of homes.
• Public realm improvements, eg. Arras Square, Lloyds Avenue.
This is to match funding already pledged by Ipswich Borough Council to improve public areas, including Arras Square, Majors Corner and the southern part of Lloyd’s Avenue.
• Reusing former post office on Cornhill
A potential tenant has been found to use this building as a high quality restaurant and bar. Ipswich Borough Council is spending £600,000 restoring the outside of the building. This money would help secure the new use – hopefully for opening in summer 2021.
• Tech campus – Suffolk New College
The Suffolk New College Tech Campus will enable young people, adults and employees to access a wide range of digital and technical courses.
• Town centre events – lighting and sound
This would enhance the continuation of the successful town centre events programme, and will also deliver a bespoke lighting and acoustic system - using key buildings and enabling innovative lighting, screen and sound projects. The aim would be that the infrastructure could be moved to support events in other locations eg parks.
• Town centre health clinic
This would support the changing role of the town centre, helping to increase the number and variety of services available centrally.
• Town centre regeneration fund
This would help to kick-start town centre regeneration, ready to respond to opportunities which arise. It will allow vacant buildings – or vacant floor space – to be acquired, refurbished, and re-let for uses which can stimulate development. It is likely to involve conversion from retail and commercial to residential use.