Successful and appealing big towns and cities need the presence of plenty of people as well as good buildings and public services and attractions. It is therefore very interesting to note that the Ipswich Vision document envisages 2000-2500 new homes in the town centre. However, this means a major reversal of what has happened in the 20th century. Victorian sub-standard houses were demolished just north of Crown Street, the ‘Potteries' in the east and the ‘Mount' in the south, and never replaced by better houses there. Private cars, especially, made living in the suburbs or on the edge of town desirable and the council estates were built beyond the centre because that was where there were acres of open land.
So, is it unrealistic to think that the Mint Quarter could house people, or that the best Co-Op buildings in Carr Street could become spacious upmarket flats, or that Lower Brook Street (where EADT will move out) will be an area for “a high quality residential scheme” as has been said by possible developers?
These sites do have potential assets - easy walk to shops, to the Waterfront, to the Regent, to the new cinemas, to the Wolsey Theatre, to Portman Road and, above all, to the railway station. Ipswich Society members might need some persuading of this because it would be a new world for them. Younger people could see it differently - if the prices are right, if stable communities are established, if there are schools and if it is clean and quiet at night. Certain types of older people might also find it convenient to live so close to the centre. It is relatively easy to envisage an Ipswich Re-born on this wonderful natural historical location around the head of the estuary and surrounded by its wooded hills. In practice many factors would need to come together and it would take more time that many of us will live to see. But in many ways is this not a desirable future for social and ecological reasons?