In this second edition of Street Scene we concentrate on street changes and some of the activities in and around central Ipswich over the last three months. The biggest change during this period has undoubtedly been the opening up of the newly revamped Cornhill with its new paving and pavement fountains, its concrete sculpture with plaques which seems to have adopted the name ‘Cornhenge’, its new steps, lighting and seating, trees and more.
It has been welcomed with a mixed response as expected with a project of this nature. Many love it and many hate it, others like some bits but not all of it. It's impossible to please everyone and no doubt by this time next year this will have all settled down and attention will have moved on to something else. Since opening, the space has been used for a number of short events including the
Christmas Market, and with the giant, 50-foot Christmas tree from Elveden Forest in Suffolk with its gold baubles and hundreds of lights dominating the hill, the space has become a lively part of the town.
Recent new shops / restaurants etc.
Three Wise Monkeys, Lloyds Avenue. After many months of building work the former Lloyds Tavern has been converted and reopened at the end of November and has been popular from day one. This is their second venture following their successful pub with the same name and run on the same lines in Colchester High Street. Offering huge choice this new pub/restaurant on three floors just off the new Cornhill is a place to be reckoned with.
The Falcon, Falcon Street/Queen Street. This former pub is now under new ownership and after a bit of a spruce up has re-opened under its original name, The Falcon.
Toni & Guy, Butter Market. Reopened in November in a refitted unit, formerly used by Viyella and Austin Reed, which had been empty for some time.
Miss Quirky Kicks, Orwell Place. This new independent shop opened on the corner of Orwell Place and Upper Orwell Street on 1 November. Lawra Stubbs, an Ipswich girl, offers a range of unique edgy clothing, crystals and gifts. This has been described as ‘a hippie gift shop’ and is a welcome addition to the town.
Ohh Deer, The Walk. After damage was done to their doors this delightful little independent gift shop closed for a while, many thought for good. With just one sister shop in Loughborough, Ohh Deer re-opened again in November with temporary doors whilst its old doors are refurbished.
British Heart Foundation, Butter Market.
At the time of writing this new shop in the former Jones the Bootmaker unit in Butter Market is due to open in December. The unit, which has been empty for some time, has been completely renovated and smartened up and fills another empty space in this street.
Spoons World Buffet, St. Matthews Street. After many months of building work this new 300 seater restaurant, part of a national chain, has opened in the former Iceland store. It serves a multi-national menu, where you pay one price and eat as much as you like. It has been busy from day one, with a mixed response on TripAdvisor; but the majority are happy with this new venue.
Calendar Club, Westgate Street and Sailmakers.
As usual Calendar Club have opened two units over the Christmas and New Year period. This fills two empty shops and helps the town to "buzz" over the festive season. The ground floor of Sailmakers was full over the Christmas period.
ITFC pop-up shop, Butter Market. As usual ITFC has opened a Christmas shop, this year in Butter Market in the unit recently vacated by Toni & Guy.
Peaky Pancakes, Upper Orwell Street. This new pancake bar opened opposite The Spread Eagle pub in November. It specialises in savoury pancakes, with its chicken and mushroom and traditional Hungarian goulash as the most popular flavours. There are sweet options including Terry’s chocolate orange and apple pie flavours.
Coming soon to the town centre.
Pret A Manger, Cornhill. Progress continues on this new coffee shop/restaurant with work on the building both inside and outside to prepare the former Grimwade’s outfitters store for its new life on the Cornhill. Popular in other large, local towns and cities and in London, this is a new restaurant for Ipswich. The fascia board has already been painted in ‘Pret’ red and we are expecting to see this open very soon, adding a vibrancy to the new Cornhill.
easyHotel, Northgate Street. The sign is up and, as I write, we expect this new 94 bedroom budget hotel from the easyJet group to open around the December/January period.
Age UK , Carr Street. Since the Co-op Department store has been purchased with a view to turning it into a school, Age UK are moving to a new shop in the huge former JJB basement store underneath the former Woolworth’s, also in Carr Street.
Current building projects: *Cardinal Park - modernisation of restaurants complex. *Premier Inn, Key Street - cladding replacement. *St. Francis Tower - cladding removal. *Orwell Quay - landscaping of car park boundaries. *Upper Brook Street - revamp of disused shop next to Cancan. *The Hold (Suffolk Record Office) Fore Street - construction continues, expected completion early 2020. *The Winerack residential tower 150 flats - construction continues, expected completion early 2020. *Paul's maltings - Princes Street - restoration and conversion into offices - expected completion 2019. *Bar Fontaine - St. Margaret's Street - restoration and conversion to apartments. - expected completion 2019. *Halberd Inn Northgate Street - restoration, expected completion 2019. *St. Vincent House - refurbishment continues. *Butter Market - repair and redecoration of shop fronts: Waterstones, Fat Face, Valeries Patisserie, work recently completed. *Former Beet Sugar Factory site (Sproughton) - Phase 1 redevelopment: £40million warehouse for food distribution for La Doria Ltd. (LDH); work started.