Ipswich is a place which has come a long way but still has far to go. Those living, bronchi working and visiting Ipswich are all in agreement that something needs to happen and that a commonly agreed plan needs to be developed and implemented in order to see it restored to its former glory.
In 2013 a Vision was presented to Ipswich that stated that the way the town was viewed needed to evolve. This new, advanced Vision takes these original ideas and develops them further; giving the fine detail that is needed for work to begin and the town to change.
Developed by Ipswich Central, the town centre Business Improvement District (BID) company, the advanced Vision is today in the ownership of all who have a determination for the town to succeed.
As a portside town, the county town of Suffolk should be recognised for its heritage and embrace and celebrate its past. A substantial amount of investment has already been made around the waterfront area of the town but there’s now a need to connect this with the rest of the town centre and make it easy for people to move around and enjoy a single, joined-up experience.
As the Vision has always determined, to prosper, the town centre area needs to work together as one, with one experience complementing the other and vice-versa. The areas need to link together to improve the flow and footfall. To do this, radical change needs to happen to the way we view the town centre. We need to move away from the traditional view of it running from east to west, along Carr Street, Tavern Street and Westgate Street, and instead see it running from north to south, from Christchurch Park, through The Cornhill, down towards the waterfront.
This new way of viewing the town allows for areas, or Quarters, to be assigned so there’s clear definition of the services and facilities available in each. The concentration of retail outlets needs to happen in the very centre of the town to allow other areas to flourish in different ways. The development of this Central Quarter, including the construction of new, purpose built retail units, should take priority so the rest of the town can take shape around it.
In the plans, with the relocation and centralisation of retail, there is space to build around 2,000 new homes in the town centre, creating much needed accommodation which will bring further life back in to the area. This will allow cultural areas of the town to develop and a sense of community to grow in areas including the Eastgate Quarter and the Westgate Quarter.
Development of other key areas of the town also needs to take place. As an example, there is no need for two bus stations in the town centre and merging these and relocating it to a new site will free up space that can be used for further retail, office and residential accommodation. A redirection of bus routes around the area will also improve footfall and traffic flow to the nine Quarters.
The creation of new conveniently located, competitively priced car parks will encourage people in to the town and pedestrianising more streets will allow people to move around with ease, opening up locations which they may, at present, not think to visit.
As well as redeveloping the traditional town centre, the vision also looks to open up more space to establish further Quarters and areas for exploration. The development of the riverside (forming the Riverside Quarter), linking the area around the train station to the waterfront, could be developed into riverside walkways as well as allowing for further residential accommodation.
The key to all of this is that all nine Quarters must work together as one, creating one experience for people to move through easily. Realising this Vision will allow Ipswich to be, once again, seen as the hub of the county; a place where people grow and great things happen.
This advanced Vision gives a sense of direction and outlines the priorities. It is now up to everyone involved with the area – local authorities, politicians, businesses and residents – to grasp the opportunity and so make it happen. It is time for clear commitment and determined action.
Commenting on the advanced Vision, Terry Baxter, Chairman of Ipswich Central, said: “Our organisation, representing over 620 town centre businesses, is committed to being part of a broad partnership to help lead our town centre into a more prosperous future. We are ready to play a full role in delivering the Vision on behalf of our members, but we cannot do it alone.
“We do not have all the answers. What we do know is that the transformation of places involves bold decisions around a commonly agreed plan. We are starting that process for Ipswich today. By presenting these proposals to the town, we are calling upon on all those who share our ambition, to unite and make this Vision a reality.”
Further information about the advanced Vision can be found here.