Exciting new plans for the redevelopment of Ipswich’s Cornhill were unveiled today.
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.
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.” Further consultation will take place through the planning process. An application was made last month and is currently being processed. 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, Ben Gummer MP, the Suffolk Chamber in Greater Ipswich and the University of Suffolk.
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