Ipswich: Waterfront gateway takes a big step forward

David Ellesmere, leader of the Ipswich Borough Council, talks about development at the RW Paul build

David Ellesmere, leader of the Ipswich Borough Council, talks about development at the RW Paul building on the Ipswich waterfront. - Credit: Su Anderson

Hopes of redeveloping the gateway to the Waterfront are taking a major step forward with the launch of a design competition for a landmark building.

Ipswich council is hoping that the competition will result in a formal application to develop the site between Stoke Bridge and the Jerwood Dancehouse being submitted in January next year.

The site includes the temporary car park previously occupied by St Peter’s Warehouse, which was destroyed by fire in 2000, the former Paul’s Malt silo, and part of the former Burton’s building.

They have separate owners, and the borough is prepared to take compulsory purchase proceedings to get ownership of the car park and silo sites.

The former Burton’s building is controlled by the Treasury Solicitors after its former owners were caught up in the banking crisis and the council is hopeful that they will be prepared to include the site in a larger redevelopment.

The borough has written to architects in the town asking them to submit designs for the site which would then be taken forward as a planning application early next year.

Council leader David Ellesmere said: “We think we have sent details to all the major architects in the town, and we are keen to involve local practices because they know the issues.

“But if there is anyone else who hasn’t been contacted please get in touch with us.”

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The new building is likely to be residential led with new private-sector flats on higher floors – but the exact configuration would be up to the architects.

Borough planning chief Steve Miller said there were options for the lower floors, including retail, offices, restaurants, or car parking.

The ground floor will look out on to the flood defences, so there will not be an attractive view – although it would be possible to have a ground floor car park with a first floor walkway giving access to cafes and shops.

“Anything like that could be possible,” said Mr Ellesmere. “All that we will require is that this should be an appropriate gateway to the Waterfront and that the historic building opposite St Peter’s Church and Wolsey’s Gate should be a major feature.”

Linking the Waterfront entrance with the end of St Peter’s Street was a priority: “That is a street that has really come up over the last few years and we really want to encourage people to use the link from the town centre.”

Anyone interested in details about the competition should contact Mr Miller by e-mail