This Newsletter comes to you in sunny and dry July - or cold and wet July? Writing this in early June, I've no idea what the summer will be like but I hope you'll make some opportunities to get out and about to see some of the many changes taking place in our town.
Exotic smells in the town
One smallish change which has rather more significance than might meet the eye is the newly opened Caffe Nero. Yet another coffee bar, some may say! Butter Market now has Caffe Nero at one end and Costa at the other end. The aroma of Italian-style coffee marks out this grand old street so that even a blind person would know where he/she is.
But Caffe Nero has actually been quite adventurous. It uses the first floor above its own premises and extends over the adjoining travel agent's shop in Upper Brook Street as well. So often rooms over shops in the town centre are wasted spaces, even though they are presumably included in the cost of the high rents. It's pleasing that this fine building in Upper Brook Street is being more fully and imaginatively used. Some good workmanship has created an interesting space upstairs. The only regrettable features were that the firm seemed so eager to start trading that external scaffolding has gone up after they've opened, and, worse than that, their planning applications for alterations and new signs were made a few weeks after the business opened!
This is not a rare occurrence. Companies however big and however welcome shouldn't treat the planning processes so cavalierly. The appearances of British towns often leave much to be desired but they'd be much worse without the planning controls so painstakingly developed over the last 30-40 years.
Possible big changes
Your Executive Committee was grateful to receive a briefing about a proposed master plan for the future of the town centre and Waterfront. This was provided by Simon Came of Urban Initiatives, the consultants working for the East of England Development Agency, the Borough Council and the County Council. It seemed to us highly desirable to have available for the future an objective assessment and vision of how the town could be developed ideally. Not all of it will actually be achieved but it should be a valuable frame of reference to offset the usual Bnitish way of doing things piecemeal. It should also be a stimulus.
Perhaps the main concern of the master plan is to encourage developments which knit together the present shopping centre, the proposed Mint Quarter, the Waterfront, Cardinal Park and the so-called Ipswich Village, making what the consultants say is "a clear, seamless and coherent town centre without run down areas". This is a concern shared, I should think, by most members Of our Society. A small exhibition, "Ipswich Futures" was held in Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre in early June. Members will have their own opportunity to hear Simon Carne speaking about "The Ipswich Master Plan" on Wednesday, 8 October - the first of our Winter Lectures.
Please send me all material for the next Newsletter by 20 August.
16 Warrington Road, Ipswich, IPI 3QU