New look for Cornhill still in the balance despite Queen Street go-ahead

An architects impression of the proposed new look for Ipswich Cornhill

An architects impression of the proposed new look for Ipswich Cornhill - Credit: Archant

Hopes for a quick start on revitalising Ipswich town centre by refurbishing the Cornhill appeared slim today despite the publication of a new plan for improvements to nearby Queen Street.

And no work could start on the Cornhill before the middle of next year at the earliest – even if the money does become available, which is looking increasingly problematic.

The work at Queen Street is a vital prelude to any Cornhill redevelopment because the town’s market would have to relocate there, at least while construction work is under way.

However the funding of the scheme – estimated somewhere between £3.2 and £4 million – has serious question marks over it.

At the time the proposal was announced a year ago, it was said this would be a combination of public funding from Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council along with the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and private funding from Ipswich Central.

The borough has put aside £1 million for the project, but the county is now saying that its contribution is the work to Queen Street – a claim that is fiercely disputed by the borough and Ipswich Central.

County council leader Mark Bee said: “Our commitment can clearly be seen through our key investment in roads and transport infrastructure over the last few years enabling us to create and develop a town centre which is fit for the future.

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“It is now imperative that partners can jointly discuss a firm way forward in attracting further monetary investment in areas such as the Cornhill. I feel very strongly that this is not solely for the council taxpayer to fund.”

It is a situation that provoked irritation from the borough’s Labour leader David Ellesmere. He said: “Unless the county council puts forward some money we are not going to be able to attract additional finance.”