Waterfront transformation plans revealed

ONE of Ipswich Waterfront's most historic landmarks could be transformed as part of a massive refurbishment project which its owner hopes will make it a major attraction in the town.

ONE of Ipswich Waterfront's most historic landmarks could be transformed as part of a massive refurbishment project which its owner hopes will make it a major attraction in the town.

Parts of the Isaac Lord Quarter date back to the early 1400s and among its uses in the past have been as part of a merchant's quarter when Ipswich was a prosperous trading town, as a maltings and a place where corn, wool and coal were sold.

But now its owner hopes to revitalise the listed network of buildings to create new bars, cafés, function rooms, banqueting suites, apartments and even a microbrewery and waterside patisserie/deli.

Aidan Coughlan, who also owns Bentley's restaurant in Fore Hamlet, Ipswich, has submitted a planning application to Ipswich Borough Council for permission to carry out the £2million refurbishment.

If planning permission is granted, work on the buildings could be complete within two years.

Mr Coughlan said: “We care very much about this site and we want to make sure it's a credit to Ipswich.

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“There's a big demand for these sorts of facilities on the Waterfront with the offices based here and the university when it is constructed.”

Part of the site, the old Malt Kiln building, housed Greenland's Vodka Bar until last month but the operator's lease was not renewed and instead Mr Coughlan is opening a new bar/restaurant called Isaac's from Friday.

Among the other plans for the site, which stretches from Wherry Lane to the Salthouse Harbour Hotel, is a new bar, which would be constructed above an existing courtyard at the front of the building and would offer views out across the Waterfront.

Further extensions and refurbishment would create a new square complete with fountain, another bar/café, new retail space adjacent to existing offices and art gallery, a new kitchen for the complex as well as conference rooms and function rooms.

There are also plans to convert two merchant's cottages fronting Fore Street either into separate apartments or bed and breakfast accommodation.

Other parts of the buildings, which are a mix of Grade I listed and Grade II* and Grade II, would be preserved and machinery used during their working life retained so that visitors can learn about the Waterfront's history.

Steve Southgate, the project development manager, said: “It will be unique, there's no doubt about it.

“What we're trying to do is preserve what we need to preserve but at the same time having that modern feel.

“The purpose is to preserve it as it is so that when people come here they can see the history of it.

“It's been closed to the public for many years so we're hoping to open it all up so that the public can see it all again.”

Nicholas Jacob Architects consulted English Heritage and Ipswich Society before finalising the plans because of the historical importance of the buildings.

The plans can be viewed by visiting www.ipswich.gov.uk and following the planning links.

RECORDS show that the Isaac Lord complex had medieval origins dating back to when Ipswich was established as a prosperous trading town selling cloth, importing wine and building ships.

The complex includes a merchant's house which has been dated by dendrochronology as having been built with trees felled between 1418 and 1450.

As the merchant's quarter expanded further buildings were constructed to store, display and sell goods between 1530 and 1550.

Another merchant's house was constructed in the early 17th Century when Ipswich was a producer of cloth.

In about 1700 the complex diversified into a maltings, which led to the construction of more warehouses and the introduction of a kiln.

Malting continued until the 1930s and the complex was also used for trading in corn and coal.

Isaac Lord purchased the site in about 1900 and Reginald Cooper joined him in business in 1930.

Lord died in 1942 but his daughter lived in the merchant house fronting Fore Street until 1976.

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