There do seem to be signs of a new spring in Ipswich: several developments coming together - the transformation of Tower Ramparts into Sailmakers, the announcement that the Buttermarket centre is definitely going to be a multi-screen film and entertainment complex with restaurants and a gym, the proposals to complete the unfinished blocks on the Waterfront, the application to convert the Tolly Cobbold brewery into a conference centre supported by an apartment block and, of course, the stimulus to thought and discussion that The Vision for Ipswich has brought to your committee and to our membership.
Charterhouse Investments LLP has bought the Civic Centre site from Turnstone Estates; it has been granted permission to use the site as a 187 space car park connected to a new 48 place restaurant with a large terrace above the spiral car park (which will remain); additionally there will be a new pedestrian crossing of Civic Drive. A Planning Condition is that the other works must be completed within 12 months of the car park being opened. The design is a striking sustainable glass box with thoughtful landscaping and planting. They will be a useful addition to the town's resources, which are fully supported by the New Wolsey Theatre. The former Police station will become a temporary car park (subject to planning permission being granted).
A Community Investment Company has been formed to convert St Clement Church into an Arts Centre; the interior will be largely stripped and painted white, the floor made a plane surface and modern multi-purpose modular furniture (seating, platforms etc.) provided. Simon Hallsworth and Carol Gant of UCS with architectural assistance from Richard MacRae of ERDM and others are involved in the project. There is a need for a mid-size arts performance centre in Ipswich for our growing young population just as churches are used in Colchester, Bristol and Norwich.
Another of the eleven town centre listed churches is taking on new life; under the care of JIMAS, a Muslim charity, the Church of St Michael in Upper Orwell Street is to have new roof and other essential works to become a community centre for all.
Chantry Vale. Taylor-Wimpey have made an outline application to Babergh District Council for 475 houses, employment, primary school, public open space, highway improvements (more traffic lights on the road from the Holiday Inn to towards Hadleigh) on the farmland to the south and north of Poplar Lane. IBC, as a consultee, strongly objected on the grounds that there is no master plan for the western development areas including the Sugar Beet factory site, that the design of the development is of very low quality and that the highway changes are ill thought out. The Suffolk Preservation Society sent an extremely professional, cogent objection letter. Babergh planners rejected the application.
Fison House, Princes Street. The new owners were granted permission for the complete rebuild of, possibly, Birkin Haward's best office building, not listed because the fourth (east) side was never built [see pages 5 & 6]. The developers' architects, from near Southend, have produced a new design for the recladding. We would fully support the concept of an office building that was of 21st century design encouraging Princes Street to become the business centre for Ipswich but we remain unconvinced that the developers have come up with the right architectural solution.
The Tolly Cobbold Brewery is a Grade II listed building on Historic England's Heritage at Risk
Register. It has been empty for many years and its historic and valuable contents plundered. John Lyall (architect of The Mill and keynote speaker at our April 2016 AGM) has registered an Outline Application to convert the brewery into a 250 seater auditorium, with a brewery museum and business startup units, a café, a gym/health club and 375 car parking spaces. The conversion would be supported by 222 residential units, 15% affordable, in multiple apartment blocks. It is also possible at the time of writing that the Transport Museum may move to the site. Altogether, this is an adventurous well thought-out proposal which we must hope comes to fruition.