Revealed – Rooftop garden and restaurant overlooking Waterfront planned for derelict factory
PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 August 2019 | UPDATED: 10:53 20 August 2019
A new world-class physical theatre facility, 14 new flats and an eatery with striking views of Ipswich Waterfront are among major plans for the derelict former Burton’s factory site.
Fresh details have emerged in a new planning application for the site, where developers have spelled out their vision for two derelict buildings on St Peter's Wharf, next to DanceEast.
Ipswich Borough Council, which has drawn up the proposals, wants the former Burton's factory and neighbouring brick warehouse to become "a place where ideas come together".
The site has been empty for more than 20 years and was snapped up by the council in 2015 for £210,000.
The council previously revealed hopes of creating a media and arts hub and have now submitted a full planning application.
Paul Clement, chief executive at Ipswich Central, said: "This is an important site at the entrance to Ipswich's stunning Waterfront.
"I welcome the borough's plans to deliver a mixed-use scheme that includes the Gecko Theatre, adding to the town's already impressive cultural offer.
"Ipswich Central strongly supports the application."
What is planned for the site?
The Burton's factory
If the plans are given the green light, two storeys could be added to the former Burton's building.
A mix of 14 flats are proposed for the third to sixth floors, with a plant and roof terrace on the top floor.
Some of the flats would have balconies, the planning application suggests.
Some kind of eatery - either a restaurant, cafe or takeaway - is planned for one of the floors, with a terrace overlooking the Waterfront.
Meanwhile, the first and second floors are set to be refurbished, to create a new creative hub for businesses from the ICT, tech, media, gaming and filming sectors.
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It is understood Screen Suffolk, which has attracted global films such as Danny Boyle's Yesterday to film in the county, has expressed an interest in using the site.
MORE: The history of the Burton's factory site at Ipswich Waterfront
The space would be split, using day passes for hot desks, and possibly allowing rent-free periods or incentives to help start-ups or businesses finding their feet.
A small 'link building' - connecting the Burton's factory and the brick warehouse - is also planned for the site.
Bosses want it to be a "continuation of the street", and they would like it to act as a common entrance to both buildings/a form of social space.
Brick warehouse - a new physical theatre facility
Based on other major projects such as Spike Island in Bristol, Waters Edge at Dundee and the Ideas Factory at NUA in Norwich, bosses envision the brick warehouse will be transformed into a creation space where Gecko Theatre can run a physical theatre facility - the only one of its kind in the country.
"The facility will provide a centre of excellence for arts professionals interested in making Ipswich home for their innovative, creative practices, especially in the field of physical theatre," council chiefs wrote in the planning application.
Steve Allman, head of operations and development at the theatre, said the organisation hopes to develop a new Masters degree in physical theatre as part of the project, in collaboration with the University of Suffolk.
'Revolutionary for Ipswich'
Artistic director Amit Lahav added: "The creation space will be revolutionary for Ipswich, Gecko and for artist-led devising theatre companies across the country.
"It will attract interest from across the UK and bring the world to Ipswich as companies look to use these facilities to create and devise their own productions.
"It opens up the possibility of Gecko working with some of the leading production companies across the UK in exciting and new ways, as well and providing us with the opportunity to expand our work with local schools, community groups and our cultural partners in Ipswich such as DanceEast, New Wolsey and the other members of We Are Ipswich."
What happens now?
Ipswich Borough Council, which has submitted the application, will now have to wait until it is seen by planners.
An eight-week target date has been set for September 27, 2019, and the committee will aim to look at the proposals by then.
If approved, it would see the biggest transformation of the site in several decades.
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