Over a period of years there have been significant improvements to the public realm of Ipswich town centre: the paving of Giles Circus, St Peters and St. Nicholas Streets, Northgate and Upper Brook Streets, new lighting in Westgate and Carr Streets and an improved setting to the Willis building all making a contribution. This has largely been achieved by use of a limited palette of quality materials and contemporary street furniture.
The future of the Cornhill has still to be resolved but on the whole, the town centre looks better than ever.
Giles Circus was presented with an Ipswich Society Award of Distinction in 2010 and the highway works at Soane Street and St. Margaret's Plain were awarded a Commendation in last year's awards. To some, this small scheme may seem an odd choice for recognition. It is part of a £21million package of improvements to Ipswich funded by central government with the aim of improving ease of movement for pedestrians and cyclists through the town centre.
The work has innovative elements and resolves some problems in the area:
- The work improves pedestrian movements from Northgate St. and the town centre to Christchurch Mansion and the Park.
- It helps to visually link the historic realm of Northgate Street, Soane Street and the park entrance emphasising a north- south axis of pedestrian movement rather than the east- west main road and vehicular traffic.
- The highway authority has removed the pedestrian safety holding pen and railings at the pelican crossing making it easier for people to cross the road and giving the message to drivers to slow down. One area of railing was installed outside a family house, but the scheme is less cluttered than before.
- Quality materials have been used and opportunity taken for a new tree to be planted. The setts across Soane Street indicate pedestrian priority.
An inner circulatory scheme is essential to protect the town centre from through traffic, but this simple effective scheme shows how physical work can help bridge this barrier and enhance the historic area.