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Portman Village on track

PUBLISHED: 15:00 08 August 2001 | UPDATED: 15:16 03 March 2010

THE new Ipswich Village development around the Portman Road football ground is firmly on track and will be taking shape over the next few months.

P2/3 lead

Special reports by Paul Geater, Amanda Cresswell and Debbie Watson

THE new Ipswich Village development around the Portman Road football ground is firmly on track and will be taking shape over the next few months.

That was the message today from Ipswich Council's chief executive James Hehir as he dismissed fears that some of the key elements of the proposal were on hold.

His comments came after Ipswich Council leader Peter Gardiner said that the proposal to build a hotel, retail units and a leisure centre on the former cattle market site opposite the Cobbold Stand had "been put on hold at the moment."

Mr Hehir revealed that the new proposals for the area would mean the town having four new multi-storey car parks between Ipswich station and the football club.

Mr Hehir said the work on Ipswich Village would have four distinct phases:

1) New offices for energy giant TXU on the site of the demolished Russell House.

This will include a multi-storey car park which will be used by employees during the week and football fans on Saturdays and Sundays when Town are at home.

2) A new Crown Court Building opposite the fire station and Fitness First gym.

3) A new public multi-storey car park behind the Kartouche nightclub on the site of the existing station overflow car park.

4) The redevelopment of the former cattle market site.

A planning application for the TXU site has already been lodged and is expected to be considered by the borough's development control committee during the next few weeks.

The new Crown Court will be built with money raised through the government's Private Finance Initiative (PFI).

This has been held up because it is part of a contract including a new Crown Court building for Cambridge – and there have been problems in finding a suitable site in that city. The existing Crown Court building is expected to be used as an extension to the current Magistrates Court building in nearby Elm Street opposite the town's police station.

Mr Hehir was confident detailed plans would be submitted very soon.

He said plans for the new multi-storey car park for the council-owned site between the river and Kartouche would be published during the autumn.

"This has to be built before work can go ahead on the Portman Road site, because that will continue to be used as a surface car park after the new rail station multi-storey opens," he said.

"Also, part of the Portman Road site – where the drill hall was demolished – is being used as the depot for Jacksons who are building the football club's new North Stand."

Mr Hehir said the riverside site would have more than just a car park.

"That is a very important site and is important for the whole area," he said.

Portman Road site developers Turnstone Estates were currently re-drawing up their plans for the site – but Mr Hehir said this would not delay the project because work could not start until the new multi-storey car-park was completed anyway.

"There have also been the very significant developments at the football club itself and the new flats being built in the former Churchman's building," he added.

Mr Gardiner's comment about Portman Road development being on hold came in a reply to a question from opposition councillor Gordon Terry.

Mr Terry said members of his group were concerned at the lack of progress with the Portman Road site, which they saw as the key "bridge" between the village development and the town centre.

"Things have clearly slowed down there, but that is the vital site for this development.

"A few months ago the council saw this – now they say other sites will go ahead first.

"We stand the risk that this area will be developed in isolation from the rest of the town rather than as part of it," he said.

Mr Terry was also surprised about the plans for more multi-storey car parks.

One is nearing completion at the station, and with three more at TXU, the riverside and Portman Road, this would cause congestion.

"For years the council has been trying to get people out of their cars onto buses and now we're going to get four new multi-storeys.

"The whole thing is a mess – no one seems to have any strategy here at all," he claimed.

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