Orwell witnesses town's huge makeover

FOR many years it was a long-held dream, but now the transformation of Ipswich Waterfront is well under way.

Richard Cornwell

FOR many years it was a long-held dream, but now the transformation of Ipswich Waterfront is well under way.

The tidal Orwell is as close to being coast that the county town gets, but for those who live and work in its old port area, every day provides wonderful scenes of water, boats and other activity - and brick by brick, they are watching it change into a thriving community.

Construction work is taking place on a number of high quality housing, retail, offices and leisure developments.

Some flats have been complete for quite a while now and people are already moved in and enjoying life on the quays, with hundreds more to come around the area.

The ancient waterfront, which can trace its roots back to Anglo Saxon times, has seen a rapid turnaround in fortunes.

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The face of the old wharf - once a jumble of warehousing and industrial buildings of varying degrees of architectural merit from concrete monstrosities to architectural gems - is now being imaginatively transformed.

The Salthouse Harbour Hotel, opened five years ago, is being extended providing an additional 27 bedrooms, a new reception and enlarged restaurant and dining area.

The six storey concrete frame structure will provide guests with views across the marina with extensive areas of glazing and a number of south-facing balconies to guest rooms.

Externally striking terracotta coloured steel cladding panels will feature to the front and side elevations of the new building. The enlarged restaurant area will continue to feature a range of modern art installations for which the Salthouse has become known.

Dance in Ipswich is heading for an exciting time as a new headquarters on the Waterfront takes shape.

The Dance House, to be run by DanceEast, is an important element of The Mill development, on the site of the former Cranfield's mill, and which will also feature the Red Rose Chain's Witchbottle Theatre.

Probably the most important development has been University Campus Suffolk.

Its impressive landmark building was unveiled in the autumn, and it already has plans for a second massive development just 100 metres away on Orwell Quay.

The impressive new six storey structure would boast 15,000 sq metres of space and play host to the university's health and science teaching programmes. As well as lecture and seminar rooms the building will also house a restaurant and student union.

Work on a new nine storey development of student accommodation nearby, which includes shops on the ground floor and 100 car parking spaces, is also about to begin.