Changing Carr Street – Paul Clement, Chief Executive

Carr Street Ipswich

[Photo courtesy of Ipswich Star]

I remember queuing for our “divi” at the Co-op, buying sweets in Woolworths, running around Carr Precinct, and even have vague recollections of the visit of Morecambe and Wise to Joe’s DIY store. My word how places do change.

A few years ago, we were all mourning the passing of what had been a great retail magnet for our town.

Yet, today, the area is reinventing itself. Much of the former Co-Op store is to be demolished and replaced with a school. The remainder will be converted to residential accommodation. The former Woolworths store is also to be partly converted into flats. Even the hideous old Odeon building will finally be brought back to life as a church.

My guess is that, around these new developments, new uses will spring up and the area will become even less reliant on shops. You can even see buildings in Upper Orwell Street being converted back to their original use as houses serving families with children attending the school. I hope that the Salutation pub remains as a sort of hub for the area, now built around a mixture of uses serving a new type of community. Other landowners should recognise and adapt to the changes.

Those that say town centres are dying should be directed towards the Carr Street area. There has been a realisation that old shops will not be replaced by new ones, but that there is life after retail.

As retail condenses towards the core, we should not mourn a so-called ‘golden era’ but, rather, celebrate change and progress.