Multi-million pound redevelopment set to follow Ipswich’s new Theatre Square

Theatre Square artists impression

Theatre Square artists impression

Proposals for a new “Theatre Square” in front of the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich have received a unanimous – and enthusiastic – welcome from Ipswich planners.

And it has emerged that plans for a long-term development of the former Civic Centre site could become clearer next year.

In the meantime the site’s owner has also been given permission to develop new temporary car park on the site of the former council offices for up to five years.

Members of the borough’s planning and development committee backed the proposals which will also see the construction of a new cafe-restaurant beside the theatre.

Planning portfolio holder Carole Jones said the changes would tidy up the site of the former Civic Centre and also create a significant public space in front of the Theatre.

She said: “This is a very welcome move for the town and will certainly improve the area until a long-term development for the Westgate Site is drawn up.”

Consultant David Warden from DGW Planning which represents site owners Charterhouse Investments LLP said talks over the long-term future of the site were continuing, and options for the long-term future of the site would be drawn up during the first half of next year.

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That could be either retail or residential-led.

The Ipswich Vision, which has been endorsed by organisations across the town including the borough council, calls for new retail developments to be concentrated on the north-south axis in the town – and wants to see a residential-led development on the Westgate site.

Work to create the temporary car park – which will be linked to the existing surface car parks on the site and will have an entrance on to the Civic Drive roundabout – is expected to be completed in time to get it open by Christmas.

And the full works at Theatre Square should be finished by the end of next year – in time for the 2016 pantomime season.

New Wolsey chief executive Sarah Holmes was delighted by the enthusiastic welcome the proposals had received from the committee members.

She said the work would greatly improve the area around the theatre – and should help to attract more people to the area generally.