New Crown car park will miss Christmas deadline

David Ellesmere in Crown Car Park

David Ellesmere in Crown Car Park

Ipswich council is set to miss its deadline to open the new Crown multi-storey car park by next Christmas.

The council’s executive is to discuss the building programme for the new 546-space car park at its meeting today – and will be told that it will be expected to open on January 16, 2018. Three weeks after Christmas Day.

That means that next year’s Christmas shopping season will have fewer parking spaces available in the heart of Ipswich than it has this year.

It does hope to open 57 surface spaces at the end of October – but the current surface car park has 236 spaces and that will be closed from the end of May to allow the construction work.

The borough also points out that this year new surface car parks have opened in Elm Street and in at the former Civic Centre site.

Together with an extra 14 spaces being created in Woodbridge Road next spring, this will mean that compared with last Christmas the town will have 214 new spaces to compensate for those lost for the year at Crown Street.

The cost of the project has also gone up from £5m to £5.5m.

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Borough council leader David Ellesmere was disappointed that the completion of the car park would be later than planned..

He said: “We had hoped to get the car park open in time for Christmas next year but it now looks as if that will not be possible.

“The surface area should be open and there is a chance that one of the decks may be open – but we are in the hands of the contractors. But once it is built it should be very good for the town.

“From that point of view it is a disappointment rather than a disaster.”

Conservative opposition leader Nadia Cenci said she would be asking for an explanation for the delay: “To miss the Christmas season by a few weeks like this does look like a very big slip-up. We shall be trying to find out why this has happened. Can the work be brought forward? Why wasn’t it pushed forward harder?”

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement was also disappointed at the news – but did not feel it should take away from the fact that the borough was investing heavily in the town.

He said: “I agree with David, it is disappointing. But I would not want that disappointment to lead to any further problems – this is a £5.5m investment in the town centre by the borough and it is very welcome.

“It is an investment that will be good for the town for years to come.”

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