Funding to kick-start Ipswich Cornhill regeneration agreed

Ipswich Central is pleased to announce that another major step towards the regeneration of Ipswich town centre has been taken as the New Anglia LEP board has agreed up to £1.6m match-funding for the regeneration of the iconic Cornhill.

Since its formation almost ten years ago, Ipswich Central has worked tirelessly on behalf of the businesses in Ipswich town centre. A revitalised Cornhill, a centre of the community, has long been something local businesses have called for and today, your Business Improvement District (BID) company is proud to say that the hard work and dedication to improving your town centre has paid off.

Terry Baxter, Chair of Ipswich Central, said: “Today’s decision reinforces the value of all seven ‘Vision’ partners working together with a common goal. The Cornhill regeneration project further illustrates our commitment to Ipswich and its future prosperity.

“From the very start, I am proud that Ipswich Central has played a key role in pushing the process forward, from joint funding an architectural competition, led by Sir Stuart Rose, to find the best design team to help transform the centre of Suffolk’s county town. Today I believe that we have taken another step towards that goal.”

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The 16-strong LEP board, made up of business, education and local authority leaders, agreed to support the project on top of the £1.75m already committed from Ipswich Borough and Suffolk County Council.

The scheme aims to revitalise the Cornhill transforming it into a thriving retail and commercial hub. It will also provide an attractive focal point for the town and stimulate a renaissance of the Cornhill buildings and the wider centre.

The projected economic benefits of the scheme include; over 300 jobs and apprenticeships, three large new businesses located in the area, a 50% reduction in vacant business units and 50 smaller businesses created.

The bid to secure funding and start work on the Cornhill has been a top priority of the Ipswich Vision Board since it was formed just last year.

Mark Pendlington, Chair of the Ipswich Vision Board and Chairman of the New Anglia LEP, said: “For centuries, the Cornhill has been at the heart of trade, culture and leisure activity for the community in Ipswich. We now have this golden opportunity to keep up that tradition while creating a vibrant town centre that will be the catalyst to attract new retailer and leisure businesses back into the town. This means creating new jobs and apprenticeships and providing visitors with a wonderful venue for culture and events. In turn this thriving hub will unlock further economic benefits across the town and will help link the centre with the exciting and continuing rejuvenation of the Waterfront. This is only possible because of the way Ipswich Central, Ben Gummer, UCS, the Chambers, Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council have worked together to make it happen. I am delighted the LEP board has agreed to back these plans it marks yet another exciting step forward in the regeneration of Suffolk’s county town. ”

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The joint funding will pay for work to level the site, providing better accessibility, paving the central area and potentially a new central focal point or monument. Today’s announcement means that work could start in autumn 2017.

The popular market is currently located on the Cornhill, the borough council is continuing to consult with the market traders and all the Vision board partners agree that a thriving market in the heart of the town centre is vital to the success of the county town.

Russell Williams, Chief Executive of Ipswich Borough Council, said: “We are keen for this important part of the Ipswich Vision to become a reality. This latest investment from the Local Enterprise Partnership will enable us to improve the town centre, attract more visitors and support our retailers and other businesses by making the Cornhill its iconic heart. This LEP commitment builds on those already made by Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Councils.

“There will be plenty of public consultation before any work goes ahead. One critical issue to be discussed and resolved is of course the future of the market. We are committed to retaining a thriving market in the town centre.”

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Cllr Colin Noble, Leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “With confirmation of this investment, in addition to the money put forward by the county council and borough, detailed design work and preparation can now move forward at pace in readiness to develop this prime spot at the heart of our county town. This has been discussed widely for some time and it is good to see things moving in the right direction as all members of the Ipswich Vision Board agree that breathing life back into the Cornhill area of the town is a key priority in Ipswich’s continued renaissance.”

Ben Gummer, MP for Ipswich, said: “This is exceptionally good news and means that we can now begin in earnest on revitalising our town centre. One of the promises that I have made to the people of Ipswich is to see our town centre renovated and the quality of shops improved. It is clear that retailers and the public want to see that renovation begin and that is why I’m delighted that we can now move ahead with regeneration of the Cornhill which should be one of the most beautiful spaces in our town.

“Sadly the current paving scheme is looking dated and does not show off the wonderful buildings to best advantage and it does not mean that we can use the square as much as we wish. I believe that through a sensitive regeneration we will make the Cornhill an even more special place and one that we are proud to show off to people that come from outside Ipswich and encourage new retailers to the town. It constitutes an important first step in renovating all the streets in the town centre.

“Finally this success shows once again the importance of joint working within the Vision and we are now achieving wins on a monthly basis and that is a credit to the members and the shared objectives that they hold.”

Dave Muller, Chair of Ipswich Chamber of Commerce, said: “The business community will be delighted that the Ipswich Vision for Cornhill has taken a big step to becoming a reality following this important decision. Economic growth is the lifeblood of Ipswich. This investment will mean more jobs, more businesses and more exciting opportunities for firms and people across the town and the county in the months and years ahead. The business community has played a key role in making this happen and is very much looking forward to playing its part in the development of Cornhill.”

Tim Greenacre, Deputy Provost at University Campus Suffolk, said: “We are delighted the decision has been taken to regenerate Ipswich’s Cornhill. As a partner in the Ipswich Vision, UCS sees this announcement as another step forward in lifting our county town and it provides further evidence of confidence in the regeneration of the area as a whole.”

Please note that photos included in this article are indicative only