Major new boost to Waterfront as borough buys derelict Burtons building

David Ellesmere in front of the buildings that the council have just purchased on the Ipswich waterf

David Ellesmere in front of the buildings that the council have just purchased on the Ipswich waterfront. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

The redevelopment of the entrance to Ipswich Waterfront has taken a big step forward with the purchase of the former Burton buildings facing the River Orwell by the borough council.

The authority paid £200,000 for the buildings after their ownership was taken over by the Treasury Solicitors.

At one stage the buildings had £4.5million of debt associated with them which was due to banks in the wake of the financial crash of 2009.

Council leader David Ellesmere – who has taken responsibility for economic development in the town on the executive – said he would now like to talk to the owners of the two neighbouring sites about putting together a development proposal for the area between Stoke Bridge and Dance East.

He said the owners of the former St Peter’s Warehouse site and the derelict Paul’s Maltings silo had told the council they were considering working together on a scheme.

Mr Ellesmere said: “We have told them we will consider using compulsory purchase orders if nothing happens, but the indications are they are working together on drawing up plans, and we would like this site to be included in those plans.”

The area between Stoke Bridge and Dance East is seen as vital for the future development of the Waterfront – and for its integration with the rest of Ipswich town centre.

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Mr Ellesmere said: “This site has been an eyesore for too long, but its ownership was fairly complex and there have been lengthy negotiations – but I am pleased we have now sorted this out.”

It is likely that the entire site will be demolished – although there will be a survey of the buildings and there is a chance that the warehouse immediately next to Dance East could be salvaged and converted into a new use.

The news of the borough’s purchase has received a widespread welcome within the town.

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement said: “This is a very welcome initiative by the borough council and they should be congratulated for bringing forward a clear proposal for this site.”

And Dance East chief executive Brendan Keaney added: “This news is fantastic. It is very important for us.

“One of the biggest problems we have is that people who leave the studio at night after classes during the winter months have to walk past those derelict buildings with no lighting, and it is very uncomfortable, especially for women.

“Visitors from London come from the station and only see the Waterfront between Stoke Bridge and ourselves – they don’t see the great work that’s happened further around the area.

“For all those reasons it is great that the borough has taken this on.”

And Ipswich MP Ben Gummer welcomed the move: “I am delighted that the borough has done this to help move things along there and I hope it will now talk to the owners of the other sites.

“The borough needs to help bring the sites together – but then allow a developer to take on the project and build something really special in what is a very important site.

“But this is an excellent first move.”