The changing face of Ipswich - updates on 12 major projects that will transform the town centre
- Credit: Archant
In the wake of the announcement that Ipswich Cornhill is to be transformed Paul Geater looks at what is happening in Suffolk’s county town.
We also bring you progress on the projects still waiting for a final decision.
Work already underway - Projects where construction work is ongoing with a firm completion date planned
The Buttermarket Centre:
Work started here last summer to convert it into a leisure-based centre with a 12-screen Empire cinema at its heart.
The project, which will create a new centre valued at £35m, is due to be completed by Christmas. The names of the restaurants planning to move in became clear at the start of the year.
Wagamama recently put in a formal drinks licence application to Ipswich Borough Council.
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Ipswich Railway Station:
Work to remodel the inside of the station and create a new forecourt is now well under way as the station undergoes a £2m facelift.
Once complete it should be easier for pedestrians, buses, and taxis to reach the station – separating the entrance to its car park from the main entrance in front of the Princes Street bridge.
Work is due for completion in the late summer.
Theatre Square/Civic Drive:
The creation of a new high-quality surface car park on the site of the former Civic Centre building is nearly finished. It was delayed because of problems filling in the basements of the tower block that was demolished six years ago.
Later this year attention will switch to the area in front of the New Wolsey Theatre as a new outdoor space is created with a new restaurant facing on to it.
Projects with a firm timetable and for which finance has been committed
River Orwell Crossing:
The Government’s pledge of £81m for this project which is eventually likely to cost £100m firmly moves this into the “probable” category from the “possible” list.
There are major bureaucratic obstacles to be overcome – the road route crosses not only a navigable river but also a freight rail line.
The hope is that all the preliminary work can be completed to allow the project to start in 2019 and for the bridge to open in 2021.
The Cornhill redevelopment:
The Local Enterprise Partnership’s decision to match-fund the cash already pledged by the borough and county councils means that work, costed at £3.3m, should be able to start next summer.
This is seen as vital in regenerating the town centre and attracting major new national chains to Ipswich. Linked to this is the paving of the Queen Street/Princes Street area of Ipswich where work is due to start in June and be completed by November.
The Cornhill area should be completely rebuilt by the summer of 2018.
Crown Car Park:
A new system-built multi-storey car park is to be built by the borough on this site next year.
The £5m structure will treble the capacity of the surface site from 200 cars to 600 and should be built over a few months in the middle of the year.
This should ensure it is open in time for Christmas 2017.
The money for this has not been 100% nailed down because the Heritage Lottery Fund is due to make its final decision in the late spring/early summer.
However having won the first round of funding for the project last October, it would be the first scheme in the history of the HLF to fall at the second hurdle if it was turned down!
If it is successful, the £3.5m from the lottery will be added to money already pledged by Ipswich Council and Fusion Lifestyle to create a £5.3m leisure complex.
If the decision is confirmed on time this summer, swimmers could be back in Broomhill by Easter 2018 (although who knows what the weather will be like on April 1 in two years’ time).
Projects still in planning stage
Tolly Cobbold site:
The former brewery is set to become an attractive business and conference centre as part of a major redevelopment in the area that will provide a number of new homes on land next to it.
This is a new proposal which was drawn up after initial plans for a retail-led scheme failed to find a tenant willing to move into the site.
It is an exciting scheme – but there is no firm timescale yet.
Northern Fringe/Northern bypass:
These two projects are linked to each other, with many insisting that homes should not be built on the “Ipswich Garden Suburb” until a comprehensive road plan is agreed.
A £250,000 study looking into new road options was revealed last week and should come to its conclusions later in the year.
The earliest any new homes could be built in this area is 2018 – but the timescale appears to continue to move backwards.
Ipswich Museum redevelopment:
The failure of the IAM (Ipswich Arts and Museums) project to get funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund was a major blow.
Officials from the borough council are now re-assessing the plans.
They are considering alternative proposals to improve the High Street Museum and former Ipswich Art School site.
Ipswich Heritage Centre:
A £17m project to create a new home for the Suffolk Records Office on the UCS campus near Ipswich Waterfront.
It is dependent on a successful bid for about £10-£12m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
This funding would go with £1m from UCS and £5m from the county council.
Wet Dock Winerack:
Developer John Howard is preparing to finish off the building that has been a symbol of the recession in Ipswich for nearly a decade.