New use for Waterfront eyesore

For many years it's been the neglected gateway to the Waterfront - but now there is real hope that a new future could beckon for St Peter's warehouse site.

IPSWICH: For many years it's been the neglected gateway to the Waterfront - but now there is real hope that a new future could beckon for St Peter's warehouse site.

Developers are hoping to clear the site to turn it into a car park to serve the Waterfront and Cardinal Park area. Ultimately the site could be fully redeveloped.

Sitting between Stoke Bridge and St Peter's Church, for many years the Victorian warehouse was seen as a potential beacon for the future development of the Waterfront.

All that changed in a few hours on the night of April 13 2000 when the building was ravaged by the most spectacular fire seen in Ipswich for years.

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Redevelopment attempts have come to nothing over the years - partly because the site is next to the disused Paul's Maltings silo and partly because the warehouse was in a conservation area.

But now the site is to be cleared at the first stage in what is hoped to be a major tidy-up of the entrance to the Waterfront.

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Planning officer Steve Miller said: “There are three buildings at the entrance to the Waterfront that we would like to see redeveloped - there's part of the old Burton's building, the silo, and the warehouse.

“To get the warehouse site cleared and in use as a temporary car park will be a good start in tidying that area of the town but there is still more to do.”

The silo and the former Burton's building are not affected by the clearance of the warehouse, but officials at the borough are hoping that work on the neighbouring site could spark their owners into action.

And the work could also prompt increasing interest in restoring the listed lodge which faces on to College Street.

MYSTERY surrounded the cause of the fire which devastated St Peter's Warehouse in 2000 - and the dangerous state of the building prevented investigators from going into the building for several months.

It was known that homeless people had been sleeping there in the weeks and months before the blaze and it was widely suspected that a stray cigarette could have caused the fire.

There were even rumours at one stage that a homeless person could have been killed in the blaze, although the authorities were eventually satisfied this was not the case.

One gable collapsed four days after the fire - and Evening Star photographer Simon Parker happened to be on Stoke Bridge as it came crashing down.

A few days later demolition experts moved in to bring down the gable fronting on to College Street to prevent a similar collapse.

Since then little has happened - there have been proposals unveiled from time to time, but the size of the site and the existence of the neighbouring silo has always proved to be an insurmountable barrier to work starting - until now.

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