Current Affairs

As is apparent to all, it is now all go on the Waterfront. On many sites the demolition phase is over and buildings are beginning to emerge from the rubble. University Campus Suffolk is one of these and it is progressing fast. The old Cranfield’s and Paul’s sites are also taking shape.

It is unfortunate that the construction process has necessitated closure of the foot and cycle path along the quayside, cutting off easy access between the island site and the rest of the Waterfront. The Society has been in touch with the developers with a view to opening up some public access along the water before the scheme is completed. Currently they have an 18 month closure order on all roads and cycleways within the site. Our discussions with them and the IBC have been helpful and I believe it is possible that some access may be achieved before the end of the year.

At the other end of the Waterfront, the Persimmon development at Orwell Quay is very advanced and one can now see the interesting ‘butterfly’ canopy of what is designed to be a restaurant. Next door on the site of the timber business at Eagle Wharf Persimmon are all set to develop their E-shaped building with open views of the water. It is in phase one of this site that we are to have a Visitor Attraction Centre, something the Society has backed for a number of years.

Two other important developments about to start soon are St Peter’s Port between the churches of St Peter and St Mary at Quay and Custom House Square, the area from Fore Street opposite the Lord Nelson along Key Street. This latter scheme will incorporate a new public square roughly behind the Custom House. Both schemes are large and prestigious.

Other developments of importance are taking place away from the Waterfront. The Mint Quarter, discussed and planned for some twenty years, seems to be on the move again, this time with a new developer promising a new department store, and other retail units and car parking for around 900 cars. This site will become of major significance when the Education Quarter gets built, since it links the area to the town.

The old Civic Centre site has now been sold and the developers held a meeting a week or so ago to outline their thoughts. Three major supermarkets are interested in being the ’anchor’ store in the development which at this stage looks very interesting, incorporating a small budget hotel and retail units. The scheme should provide a number of pedestrian routes through the complex.

The Film Theatre has been a source of concern to many for some time, but the new set-up is now in operation with the lease initially for five years. It is important that it gets full support from the public to ensure it goes from strength to strength.

The Society was instrumental in the town seeking an Act of Parliament to enable it to hold market stalls in streets surrounding the Town Hall. The market has expanded into Princes Street, but the proposed expansion up into Lloyds Avenue has not yet happened, owing to serious opposition of some vested interests. However, there is now hope that the extension into the whole of Lloyds Avenue may happen soon, giving us a market from the top of Lloyds Avenue to Giles Square.

Since I last wrote, Ipswich has succeeded in its bid to achieve unitary status, freeing it from the services currently run by Suffolk County Council. It will take several years to happen fully but some changes will happen earlier. What has already happened is that IBC has restructured itself and one now finds new people in charge of key areas. Ipswich Angle will soon produce a list of all new section heads and their responsibilities.

Finally as I write, we are approaching the annual Heritage Open Days weekend. Once again, there is a good range of buildings open and they are all described in the full-colour brochure produced by this Society and available from the Tourist Information Centre and elsewhere. This will be the last year that Pauline West has co-ordinated the event and we than her for her efforts. Dianne Hosking will take over from her and co-ordinate next year’s programme. I hope that by the time you read this many of you together with the general public will have visited and enjoyed many of these buildings.

Jack Chapman