Look how far we have come with final stage of the Waterfront redevelopment

10 August, 2020 - 06:00
A CGI image of what the new-look Burtons arts and media hub could look like. Picture: DAN FISHER

A CGI image of what the new-look Burtons arts and media hub could look like. Picture: DAN FISHER

Dan Fisher

Plans to regenerate the entrance to the Waterfront at St Peters Dock took a big step forward last week with the announcement that Ipswich Borough Council’s bid for £3m Government funding had been successful, writes Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere.

The regeneration of the area between Stoke Bridge and Dance East is a strategic priority for the Council and a hugely complex project.

Before we intervened, there were three separate derelict sites – the former St Peter’s Warehouse site and cottage, the R & W Paul concrete silo, and the Burtons building and neighbouring brick warehouse.

They were in three separate ownerships with administrators and Irish banks involved. Debts incurred on the buildings by their owners prior to 2008 were vastly higher than they were actually worth.

None of them were going anywhere.

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Through painstaking work, sometimes involving the threat of compulsory purchase, the council managed to acquire all three sites and bring them into one ownership.

Once this prerequisite for kickstarting development occurred we’ve been able to move forward step by step, identifying the next stage, undertaking the necessary preliminary work and then proceeding when funding has been identified.

The St Peters Dock road has been re-paved, archaeological work undertaken on the St Peters Warehouse site, work agreed to take the listed 4 College Street cottage off the Buildings At Risk register and plans agreed to provide a new HQ for the Gecko theatre company.

MORE: Plans for new theatre HQ and media hub revealed

The council has undertaken a lot of preliminary works for these sites. This is important because large-scale Government funding often appears out of the blue and is only for “shovel-ready” projects that can be completed within a given timescale.

The latest £3m grant, for instance, is only for projects that can be completed before April 2022. One of the ways we could convince the Government that would be achieved was because we had already sought and gained planning permission for the Burtons building.

Of the four derelict buildings on site we now have plans and funding in place for three of them.

The remaining challenge – and it is a big challenge – is the R & W Paul Silo but our aim is to seek some of the Government’s promised £25m Towns Fund to take this project forward.

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