From the blog

Ipswich Vision: Progress made so far

Progress is being made on the Ipswich Vision but what exactly does that mean? Here we take you through each priority and what’s happening with each.

1) To undertake work to scope and test demand for new retail development

Good progress

The Vision Board has sought retailer advice to help commence work on a retail strategy. In order for the town centre to thrive, retail should be closely concentrated around The Cornhill and in the Central Quarter and not fragmented in extremities of the town centre. With this advice in mind, the Vision Board has:
• decided, in the light of this strong advice that has been accepted by all partners, not to proceed with another expensive retail study for the town centre but to concentrate on tangible action;
• set about agreeing a plan for such action in the Central Quarter;
• started detailed conversations with landowners around the Cornhill to improve and adapt existing units to make them more attractive to high street retailers.

The Board will still commission further work to understand precisely what improvements are needed to what retail units in the town; how much additional usable retail space this will release; and research further how great the potential market for new retail provision is in order to provide a compelling offer to investors in the town.

2) To develop a funding package to support the delivery of the Vision/Plan

Good progress

The Vision Board has had considerable success in securing funding for the delivery of its objectives. In the 2015 Autumn Statement the chancellor announced that three sites in Ipswich would be brought together into an Enterprise Zone, which will in time provide a Business Rate income stream to help fund Vision projects. The principles of the governance arrangements to allow this to happen have already been agreed between the Vision partners.

The Board must still make a complete assessment of the global costs of the various Vision schemes, so that these objectives can be set aside the projected revenue from the Enterprise Zone. The shortfall that is identified will then be the remaining funding requirement for which the Board must identify a source.

In addition, the Vision Board has successfully applied to the Coastal Revival Fund to help regenerate the derelict sites adjacent to the Waterfront. Other government funds have been identified to which the Board will apply to assist in its regeneration objectives.

3) Start Construction of new Crown Street Car Park

Good progress

The Vision Board supported IBC in their consultation with the landowners of Sailmakers and architects to assess alternatives to the Crown Street site. After detailed assessment it was decided that Crown Street was the favoured site for a new car park to the north of the town centre.

Ipswich Borough Council, with the support of the Vision Board, assessed a number of options for the Crown Street site, from a temporary 200 space car park to a permanent car park with a capacity in excess of 900 spaces. A good, flexible, plan has been arrived at, comprising a 400-500 space multi-deck car park, to be constructed on a modular basis on the eastern part of the site, with the remainder of the site being a surface car park of approximately 100 spaces. This provides a good level of flexibility as it provides the opportunity for future growth in parking provision on the western part of the site if this should be required, or alternatively, the opportunity for development of that part of the site. The Vision Board has endorsed this plan.

In addition, the Vision Board and IBC are in discussions with partners to improve pedestrian and vehicular access to the car park, and to increase revenue streams. Furthermore, the Board and IBC are looking at advanced parking telemetry to improve the customer offer of the carpark and increase revenue generation.

The outline plan for Crown Street Car Park has received executive approval at IBC; funds have been allocated; and the plan is currently going through the development phase. The project will go out to tender in Spring-Summer 2016 aiming to be completed by Christmas 2017.

4) To agree a residential development plan creating a minimum of 2,000 new homes

Started but limited progress

The Vision envisages at least 2,000 new homes in the town centre and further work by the Vision members suggest that this might be increased to 2,500. As part of the development of this aspect of the priority a site allocation plan is underway, based on IBC’s Core Strategy. In addition, the Vision Board is assembling a summary pipeline of currently proposed developments.

5) To agree a car Park Strategy (including Park and Ride, signage and information and new town centre car parks)

Started but limited progress

The Vision Board looked into the prospect of building a new car park above the bus station on the south side of Crown Street but the footprint of the land was deemed to be too small. The Vision Board has agreed to commission a full parking study, the purpose of which will be to assess the future parking requirements of the town and present a series of recommendations to enable the town’s parking offer to help deliver the Vision for the town centre. The study will look at pricing, the needs of different customers, the parking sites themselves, Park and Ride, out of town parking and many other factors. Users and key interested parties will be engaged in the study and influence the final assessments and recommendations.

6) To develop a strategy for markets

Still to commence

The Vision Board has decided to delay developing a strategy for the town’s markets until funding for the Cornhill is completed.

7) To Complete the Innovation Centre in the UCS West Building

Good progress

The building of the UCS Waterfront Innovation Centre is underway and should be delivered later in 2016.

8) To transform the station forecourt

Good progress

Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council and Abellio Greater Anglia have agreed plans for the improvement of the station forecourt, contracts have been let and work begins in March 2016. The new forecourt will have improved pedestrian and cycle access and allow better access to buses and taxis. The road and area in front of the station will also be resurfaced.

9) To agree a site development strategy for all major vacant, undeveloped/underused or redundant sites

Good progress

The Vision Board has assembled an inventory of all land in the town owned by the public sector and the major undeveloped sites owned by the private sector. An early draft of this was presented at the MIPIM London Conference in 2015 and a use analysis will now be completed for each site to encourage development.

In addition, a detailed plot-by-plot survey of the town centre will be undertaken in 2016 to ascertain which units can be upgraded to accommodate the demands of retailers wishing to come to the town.

10) To deliver a comprehensive redevelopment plan for the area around Novotel roundabout and from Stoke Bridge to Dance East

Started but limited progress

The Vision Board has identified that archaeology underneath the Stoke Bridge area has provided one of the barriers to development. The Board submitted a successful application to the Coastal Revival Fund to aid in feasibility and the de-risking of the sites on the Waterfront directly adjacent to Stoke Bridge. Members of the board are meeting the landowners to discuss how best to spend the money to aid the site’s regeneration.

  • The owners of the ‘St Peter Port’ site have begun work on restoring the buildings by Wolsey’s Gate and are working up redevelopment plans.
  • The owners of the ‘Pauls’ Maltings’ site have decided to convert the building to residential.
  • The owners of the ‘Burtons’ site are developing options for converting the warehouse building on that site.

The Vision Board is actively engaged in f the final Stoke Quay site, now demolished, in order to help bring forward development on this highly sensitive site.

11) To identify the site for a single bus station and to produce a strategy for bus movement in the town centre

To commence

12) To develop a comprehensive public realm strategy

Started but limited progress

The Vision Board is currently developing a proposal for the repaving and improvement of the streets in the town centre, beyond the proposed development of the Cornhill and recent works at Giles’ Circus.

In addition, planned works to Queen Street and the upper part of Princes Street will commence later in 2016.

13) To present a funding proposal for a Wet Dock Crossing to government

Complete

The business case for a new Wet Dock Crossing was submitted to the Department for Transport and the HM Treasury in December 2015.

14) To develop a strategy (transport, signage and public realm) for the improvement of the main arterial routes and gateways into the town centre

Started but limited progress

Suffolk County Council, on behalf of the Vision Board, has submitted designs for signs on the entrances to the town to the Department for Transport for approval, which is expected in April 2016.
The main arterial routes and gateways have been identified. The Vision Board has concentrated on the station and Princes Street.

15) To develop plans for visitor attraction(s) on the waterfront

Still to commence

16) To plan future uses of the buildings around the Cornhill

Good progress

The Vision Board has met many of the owners, developers and retailers with interests in the buildings around the Cornhill with a view to develop these sites into high quality, viable retail and restaurant units. A plan for the buildings surrounding the Cornhill will be developed alongside the plans for the Cornhill itself.

17) To bring forward plans for improvement to the Star Lane gyratory system

Started but limited progress

Plans to improve the Star Lane Gyratory system coincide with the Wet Dock Crossing project in that a new crossing would take volume off the gyratory and allow for it to be re-modelled and improved.

18) To complete plans for the redevelopment around the Museum and to start the works

Started but limited progress

The application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding has been rejected a second time. The Borough Council is taking stock of its options.

19) To get work underway on a redevelopment of the Cornhill

Good progress

The Vision Board is currently looking at funding options which may enable the project to move forward..

20) To develop a new Heritage Centre on the Waterfront

Good progress

An application for funding has been submitted for £11 million from The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The application will go through the HLF regional committee in March and through the National Board for a decision in late April.

21) To complete the Princes Street office corridor redevelopment

Good progress

Planning has been approved for the new Birketts building (50,000 sq ft – 2017). Work on Fisons House is underway (43,000 sq ft – 2016). The Drum & Monkey and surrounding sites are included in the LEP’s Enterprise Zone and have been acquired by Ipswich Borough Council. Portman House has been taken by Archant. The County Council is studying options for redeveloping the Princes’ Street Fire Station site, with a new fire station included.