Could a new public square be created at Portman Road car park?

The Portman Road car park that could become a new open space. Picture: PAUL GEATER

The Portman Road car park that could become a new open space. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

The construction of a new multi-storey car park opposite Portman Road’s Cobbold stand is set to lead to a major change in the landscape of part of Ipswich town centre.

But what will happen to the existing surface car park – and could part of it become a new open space that would be a natural meeting place for fans before football matches?

The new car park will create a similar number of parking spaces to those currently available, but on a much smaller footprint.

A new hotel is due to be built on the site of the former Drum and Monkey pub, which is currently a separate temporary car park.

And within a few years the borough council hopes that a new office block will be built on the site of the old garages that are currently being demolished.

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But there is nothing certain planned for the rest of the site, which was the town’s livestock market until the 1970s.

Borough leader David Ellesmere said a new public square would be created near the new multi-storey car park. Ultimately the rest of the site could be used for business or possibly residential developments – but it could be many years before that vision is complete.

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He said: “We don’t know how things are going to change over the next few years. There might be a faster recovery than we can see at the moment – but ultimately there will be a development opportunity there.”

MORE: David Ellesmere outlines car park plans

But in the meantime, could the area be cleared and used as a temporary open space until plans to redevelop the site come forward?

Portman Road has been turned into a cul de sac for use by pedestrians and cyclists – and is likely to remain like that for at least another year until the effects of the change have been analysed – but the idea of the stretch behind the football stand being closed to through motor traffic could be crucial to the future of the area.

Overall though, the long-term future of one of the largest sites in the centre of Ipswich looks like a blank canvas – and the borough might have to look at ways of ensuring it isn’t left as a wasteland in the medium term, possibly turfing much of it and turning it into an attractive open space until development plans do finally come to fruition.

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