Poll: Tell us your views on whether Ipswich Market should be moved from the Cornhill

RIVAL visions for market emerge as debate intensifies

TWO remarkably different views have emerged for the future of the Cornhill in the centre of Ipswich – and we want your ideas on what should happen to the area of town seen as central to its future.

Despite a general welcome for the tough tone of Sir Stuart Rose’s keynote address at last week’s second Beacon Town conference, it has become clear there are two distinct visions for the centre of the town.

Each have their advocates – and each vision is aimed clearly at a different group. However, it is very difficult to see how they could be reconciled.

Sir Stuart was calling for the market to be relocated, albeit only a short distance, while the market traders insist they will not move from the Cornhill.

One of the main concerns about the town centre is the number of empty prime-location stores including the former Grimwades/Clinton Cards store on the Cornhill.

It is understood that restaurant chain Wagamama is interested in taking over what is considered to be one of the most important sites in the town – but would want to have space for tables outside on the Cornhill.

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Today we present the arguments and invite you to take part in the debate.

Leave the market

IPSWICH Market has been on the Cornhill since the successful Star campaign in 2002 when it was dying in its former home on the Civic Centre car park.

Since moving to the heart of the town, it has become a focal point for shoppers – and has increased from three to four days a week.

Market traders say their presence brings people into the town centre – the town is much busier on the days when it is on the Cornhill.

They reject proposals to move elsewhere – even the comparatively short distance to the bottom of Lloyds Avenue because they feel no other location would give them the kind of footfall they need.

They are also likely to object to any plans to re-arrange the market to make it possible, for instance, for a restaurant/cafe with outside tables to open in the former Grimwades/Clinton Cards store.

They operate on the Cornhill under the terms of an ancient market charter granted to the borough and an Act of Parliament which designates the Cornhill and surrounding streets – including Lloyds Avenue – as the site for the market.

Their position is backed, in general by the borough council, whose leader David Ellesmere has said there is no question of moving it unless the traders are happy to go somewhere else.

The borough now manages the market – so in effect that is saying that there is no question of forcing the market traders to move on.

It is a move that is likely to be supported by most of the market’s thousands of users.

The majority of these probably come from the town, especially the estates around the town who find easy access on the buses to Tower Ramparts, a short distance from the Cornhill (although even shorter to Lloyds Avenue!).

Most of these people would be unlikely to use cafes for a leisurely latte – but would be worried about any threat to the market, a threat they would be likely to comment on at the ballot box.

Not all market users are from the town – there are some who travel a distance to visit their favourite stalls, and The Star has had letters from visitors who say that the bustling market is what makes Ipswich a good town to visit.

Move the market

Turn the Cornhill into an open space for pavement cafes, and for it to be used as a space for events. This was the proposal supported by former Marks & Spencer chief Sir Stuart Rose at last week’s Beacon Conference.

It is supported by the Ipswich Central Business Improvement District (BID) and local MP Ben Gummer.

They argue that clearing the stalls from the Cornhill would allow the bars and restaurants that face on to the square to flourish.

Mannings and the Golden Lion could extend their tables on to the Cornhill, and the former Grimwades and Clinton Cards store could be turned into a cafe with tables outside.

Before the market moved on to the Cornhill in 2002, the concept of outdoor eating and drinking was not hugely popular in this country – but it has increased in popularity over recent years, partly because of the smoking ban that was introduced in 2007.

Supporters of the proposal say that by clearing the Cornhill there could be major events in front of the Town Hall every month – and smaller events every weekend during the year.

They say it would create an attractive focal point for the town – and help to attract visitors from parts of the county and beyond who currently shun Ipswich.

The town is desperate to attract people from outside the borough who do not use Ipswich in the same way as people from Norfolk visit Norwich or those from Cambridgeshire visit Cambridge.

Sir Stuart suggested that the market could move a short distance to Lloyds Avenue, leaving it in the heart of the town but freeing up the major space on the Cornhill itself.

n Should the market be moved? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk. Alternatively, vote in our online poll by visiting ipswichstar.co.uk