Waterfront work well under way

WORK to transform one of the biggest sites on Ipswich Waterfront into a major new development is today well underway.

WORK to transform one of the biggest sites on Ipswich Waterfront into a major new development is today well underway.

And by the late spring there will be a dramatic transformation beside the Old Custom House.

A year after the old Albion Maltings buildings came down, work is now in full swing on the new Regatta Quay development, which will eventually provide nearly 400 homes along with a new theatre, shops, cafés and office space.

Concrete piles are being driven into the ground to allow construction to start on the first of two 14-storey towers.

The first section of the Regatta Quay development is due to be completed in January next year but many of the flats have already been pre-sold as investments.

The development will include the Red Rose Chain Theatre group's new Witchbottle theatre which will be its first permanent home in the town.

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Regatta Quay is being build for City Living Properties and is being marketed by estate agency Savills.

Graham White of City Living said once the concrete framework at the bottom of the development was completed things would happen very quickly.

He said: “On developments like this the bottom two floors always take quite a bit of work. It is a major business getting their framework completed.

“But once that framework is completed, we will see new floors going up at the rate of about one a week. It should be up to its full height and ready for the topping-out ceremony by the end of the summer.”

The work is being undertaken by nationally-known builders Blenheim House Construction.

While construction of the first tower is well under way, contractors are also preparing the Victorian Maltings building on the Waterfront itself for its new role.

Mr White said: “We have got demolition firm CDC in to clear out the inside of the building before the new flats are built inside there. They will be the first to become available for occupation in January next year.

“There will be 30 flats in the old building, and 12 of them will be finished in January.”

The entire Regatta Quay development is due to take two years to complete. It is due to be fully occupied by the middle of 2009.

WORK on Regatta Quay and other developments on the Waterfront is constantly monitored by Ipswich Borough Council planning officers who ensure the final work complies with the permission that has been granted.

They also have regular meetings with contractors to ensure the correct materials are used on what should become a landmark building for the town.

This week planning officers Rod Lay and Stephen Lim, together with the council's conservation officer Bob Kindred, were at the site for a routine meeting to discuss the look of the building.

Mr Lay said: “That is an important site and it is vital that the building is completed successfully.

“It is a very exciting time for this part of the town and the new building at the Albion site will help to define the Waterfront.”

WHILE the new building is going up at the Waterfront, divers are going down to help repair the wall of the Wet Dock itself.

A team of diving engineers from Southampton-based company Jones Marine are having to repair the dock after it was damaged . . . by shellfish!

Mussels have lived in the wet dock for decades, and the company was called to clear them from the wall to try to prevent them from causing more damage.

Graham White from City Living, who called in the specialist firm, said the damage they discovered was more serious than had originally been thought.

He said: “When they started removing the mussels from the bottom of the wall they found they had eaten into the bricks and there was nothing left there.

“So they have had to go back down and pump concrete directly into the areas that have been affected by this.”

Jones Marine have been working on the wall of the wet dock for about eight weeks and they have an estimated eight further weeks of work.