New look for old mill

UNDER Cranfield Mill's collonades, will be revellers pouring out of bars and restaurants, raising a glass as you walk by.That's the vision of the developers who want to bring a buzz to Ipswich Waterfront.

UNDER Cranfield Mill's collonades, will be revellers pouring out of bars and restaurants, raising a glass as you walk by.

That's the vision of the developers who want to bring a buzz to Ipswich Waterfront.

And the cultural cornerstone of the development would be a landmark 23-storey dance house taller than Civic Centre .

It would be higher than the existing silos on the site, change the skyline and carve Ipswich a place on the national arts map according to supporters.

Architect John Lyall's presentation last night showed how the £5.8m DanceEast complex including studios, theatre, offices, and therapy rooms would fit into the whole £30m-plus redevelopment of Cranfields Mill site if planning permission is approved in coming months.

The borough and county councils have already backed the dance house project with £250,000 each, and a £2.5m lottery grant was announced this week.

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The development also includes offices, coffee shops, a quadrangle, retail units and residential flats. There would also be affordable housing, and a hotel and visual arts centre on the two 'islands' sandwiched between Ipswich Docks and the town centre. St Mary's on the Quay church currently stands on one of the islands.

Architect Spencer Style from Wharfside Regeneration, who used to transform dark old theatres into music venues in the 80s, said the mill would become like a 'mini Barbican' centre, where people love to live above the central piazza of arts and entertainment venues.

Mr Lyall said: "Under the collonades, where it is all shuttered up and tumbleweeds blow through, imagine in two to three years' time there will be lots of restaurants, people spilling out of bars, drinking, raising a glass as you walk by, catching a cab to get home."

Borough council leader Peter Gardiner called the project 'very exciting' and backs it all the way. He said it might provide a home for Ipswich Film Theatre when the Corn Exchange is sold: "At the moment we have not discounted housing Ipswich Film theatre in this development. That is part of ongoing discussions.

"There was fear of cramming to much into one space but we have not ruled it out, and we desperately want to retain the film theatre."

West End star Ruthie Henshall and footballer Fabian Wilnes also attended, as patrons of the dance house plan.

Weblink: www.danceeast.co.uk.

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