Theatre Square development at New Wolsey in Ipswich set for green light

Westgate quarter to let sign on Civic Drive, Ipswich

Westgate quarter to let sign on Civic Drive, Ipswich

Proposals to develop a new “Theatre Square” in front of the New Wolsey look set to get the go-ahead next week.

Members of Ipswich Borough Council’s planning and development committee are being urged to approve a planning application for the work as part of an overall application to improve the area near the site of the former Civic Centre building, which was demolished in 2009.

Applicant Charterhouse Investments is seeking permission to open a new temporary car park for five years on the site of the former Civic Centre, along with refurbishing the underground car park and carrying out work to create the Theatre Square.

Council officers are advising the committee that a legal requirement should be signed insisting that the work on Theatre Square should be completed within a year of the opening of the temporary car park – which will have 75 spaces.

Also included in the application is a bid for a new pedestrian bridge across the entrance to the underground car park, giving a better link between the theatre and the town centre. And the officers recommend that there is a condition that the car parks around the theatre – including the underground car park – should be open during the evening when there is a production at the New Wolsey.

One proposal that has been dropped, for now, is that there should be a pedestrian crossing over Civic Drive.

This would cost £200,000 to install. Instead of funding that the developers have put aside £75,000 to go towards a possible crossing to be installed in future if the site has a more comprehensive redevelopment.

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The temporary planning permission is for five years, at the end of which time there are hopes that a comprehensive redevelopment programme for all the surface car parks in the area will come forward.

At the same meeting the borough is seeking permission to develop a 64-space temporary car park on the site of the former police station in Elm Street.

This would also be for five years – and there are hopes that the two sites could ultimately be redeveloped together as a major new project for Ipswich town centre, with homes and shops.