Ipswich Central confirmed earlier this year, the final plans for the new Cornhill redevelopment , with the plans cementing another major step towards the regeneration of Ipswich town centre.

The project is a major priority for the Ipswich Vision Group, and the message is clear: “We have listened to the public and our designs reflect those opinions.” The new plans were drawn up after a widespread consultation last year showed that a majority of people and businesses wanted to see Ipswich’s town centre square improved. However, some details were met with opposition, including the proposed levelling of the Cornhill by use of steps and ramps and an optional “tower”. These have now been dropped in favour of a more traditional design, incorporating a contemporary sculpture and water feature.

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 and we are proud to say that the hard work and dedication to improving your town centre has paid off.

Paul Clement, Chief Executive of Ipswich Central said: “Ipswich Central pushed the Ipswich Vision centre stage in 2015 to drive the town forward with all partners working towards the same goal. The Cornhill is the heart of the town centre and is a key part of the visitor experience in Ipswich and therefore a key part of the Vision. It is really important that our town centre continues to evolve in line with the needs of consumers and these plans help achieve this. The new Cornhill designs are sympathetic to the historic setting, whilst creating a public realm space fit for future needs. They are a testament to the architects who have responded superbly to the local concerns and requirements for the space going forward.”

Ipswich Borough Council Leader David Ellesmere hailed the new-look plans, which will now go before planners in the spring for approval. If the go-ahead is given, the tendering process will follow and then construction work will start next January, with completion due before Christmas 2018. Councillor Ellesmere said: “These new designs do reflect what the people of Ipswich and conservation groups have told us but they still remain exciting and bold. Our architects, Hall McKnight, have managed the not easy task of retaining the wow factor while meeting public concerns about some of the details. We look forward to making progress with this project and continuing to support town centre businesses by making our county town more attractive to investors, residents and visitors.”

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 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.”

Further consultation will take place through the planning process.
The project is being funded by the New Anglia Local Enterprise partnership, Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council.
Evidence from towns in other parts of the UK shows that refurbishment projects like these can help to increase town centre footfall and retail spend.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the new designs is a set of four “celebratory columns” inspired by the four key figures on top of the Town Hall and former Post Office building. They also reflect the former historic gates to Ipswich, creating a fusion of old and new, reflecting Victorian grandeur in a contemporary form.

The Ipswich Vision Group was set up to support, promote and enhance the town. Partners are: New Anglia Local Enterprise partnership, Ipswich Central, Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk County Council, Sandy Martin MP, Suffolk Chamber in Greater Ipswich and the University of Suffolk.