Since the last Street Scene, lockdown has been eased and much of the town is now operating on the ‘new normal’. Most of the shops are open again and people are gradually returning to town. A few shops have queues, mainly Primark and the banks, but most don’t.
As expected a few shops have closed never to reopen again. Sadly we have lost Jack Wills and Kiko Milano as well as Coast to Coast in the Buttermarket centre. We have also lost the Tourist Information Centre in St. Stephen's Church. Other councils have been closing their TICs. More closures may follow.
Bonbon opens in the Butter Market
On the plus side shops are still opening. A new patisserie and bakery shop called Bonbon has opened in Butter Market in the former MET-Rx on the corner of the The Walk and is proving very popular. The Tooth Club cosmetic dentistry has opened in the former Riley and Riley jewellers in Butter Market. Burger Priest has opened on the upper floor of the Buttermarket centre next to Cosy Club in a unit which has been empty ever since the Buttermarket reshaping. Diechmann fashion footwear is soon to open in the former Burtons Art Deco shop on Cornhill.
Work fitting out The Hold (Suffolk Record Office) to be ready for opening is in progress. The building has been handed over by the contractor to Suffolk County Council.
New planters on the Cornhill
Work on the Cornhill has resumed at full pace after a three week pause, awaiting the delivery of the bespoke planters and railings which will include additional lighting. The contractors Brooks and Wood have said they are still aiming for a mid-August finish. Work continues restoring and cleaning the old Post Office, which is surrounded by scaffolding and white plastic sheeting, preparing it for potential future tenants.
The work on the crumbling Wherry Quay on the Waterfront has been completed and the wire fencing which stood for about two years has all gone. The Waterfront has been closed to traffic to ease social distancing, so cars can no longer park along the quays. Most of the bars and restaurants are open again as is the Salthouse Harbour Hotel. The Noah's Ark on Orwell Quay, which originally arrived here for three months in November 2019, is now expected to stay until March 2021.
Other roads have been closed to traffic to help social distancing including Upper Brook Street, which is much easier to use as a shopping street now that pedestrians can walk in the road. As one of the busiest shopping streets in Ipswich, it has often been suggested that this road should be pedestrianised. It is just possible some of these closures could become permanent.
Work continues on the ‘Golden Pavilion’ and refurbishment of the New Wolsey Theatre concourse. The golden roof is now on and surfacing work is in progress. Some of the scaffolding has already gone.
Christchurch Park play area
Work has continued updating the children’s playground in Christchurch Park, which has been fitted out with completely new play equipment with a castle replacing the Pirate Ship.
City Fibre and their contractors VolkerSmart have been digging up streets and pavements around Ipswich to lay fibre optic cable for superfast broadband. Their work has been shoddy in places and Ipswich Society Chairman, John Norman, went on the BBC Radio Suffolk breakfast show with Mark Murphy to discuss this with Charlie Kitchen, the boss of City Fibre. A recording of the talk is on The Ipswich Society’s Facebook page.
IBC have proposed a multi-storey car park on the old livestock market site by Portman Road to serve the growing office corridor on Princes Street. Recent circumstances will almost certainly delay this. There has been an application to build an office block on Chancery Road on the land adjoining the new office block in the former Paul’s Maltings/Hollywoods car park. Office blocks are a risky business now, with more and more people working from home. IBC have been planning another office block on the former Botwoods site on Princes Street. Time will tell as to how widespread – and how permanent – home working will become.
Lidl have bought land on Futura Park near John Lewis with plans to relocate their Ravenswood store on this retail park.
Tooth Club in Butter Market
IBC are reported to have purchased the former Toys R Us site at Copdock Mill.
The former TGWU office, Transport House, on Grimwade Street has been demolished. This had been empty for many years and was an eyesore which will not be missed. IBC owns the former shops along Grimwade Street, to include the former Peter's Ice Cream site, and have announced their intention to build affordable homes here.