Despite Brexit, the pandemic, dwindling town centres  and the weather, there is still plenty going on in the streets and surroundings of Ipswich.

Completed projects

The NEW WOLSEY THEATRE facelift and NW2 Pavilion construction, plus Theatre Square work are all completed and looking very smart. In the theatre are the new downstairs bar and upstairs lounge with balcony; also a new canopy over the theatre entrance. Total cost £3.5 million.

The UNITARIAN MEETING HOUSE restoration has been completed and the house is open to the public again and looking very clean and fresh – now with level access for the disabled.

The controversial conversion of the ‘Croydons’ building into a TESCO express is now complete and as far as the exterior is concerned, it's not looking too bad. The shop sign is discreet for a Tesco sign and many agree that the shop looks better now from the outside than when it was Blacks and when it was empty for seven years prior to Jack Wills moving in.  

Photo:Phone Universe (second only to Carpet Galaxy) comes to Butter Market


New town centre shops

Two new shops have opened in Sailmakers (Tower Ramparts) which include NTOURAGE clothing store on the ground floor (former Java Store unit) and BEX BAIT AND TACKLE on the upper floor who also have a shop on Upper Orwell Street.

FIREAWAY PIZZA have opened in a former betting shop in Upper Brook Street.

PHONE UNIVERSE has opened in Butter Market in the former Riley and Riley.

WAFFLE and Co. have opened in Carr Street filling half of the old Superdrug unit with Cake Box filling the other half.

Also in Carr Street MICROSHOPS ‘indoor market’ with small units for start up businesses is gradually filling up with about 10 units and a coffee shop already open with more signed up to open soon.

As already mentioned a new TESCO express has opened in Tavern Street. Also, IPSWICH BIKE PROJECT have taken over the former Waterfront Bikes unit on Orwell Quay.


Shops and businesses opening soon 

HONEY + HARVEY Patisserie and Tea Rooms is expected to open in Giles Circus before Christmas.

THE BOTANIST restaurant is scheduled to open around November in the old Post Office on Cornhill.

BURGER AMOUR have taken out a 25 year lease on the former Little Waitrose unit in the Corn Exchange. They are part of the Dough & Co. group who have recently opened a restaurant in the former Frankie and Benny’s unit in Cardinal Park.

New projects around Ipswich 

BREWDOG Craft Beer have applied for an alcohol licence in the former La Tour Cycle Café unit on Albion Wharf where they propose to strip it out and completely redesign the unit.

A proposal has been put forward to convert ST MATTHEW'S BATHS into a gig venue with live  music.

A proposal has been made to turn ST. STEPHEN'S CHURCH (former TIC) into a live music venue.

A planning application has been accepted for a 99 bedroom TRAVELODGE on the car park next to Endeavour House (SCC) on Russell Road where the developers also plan to revamp the retail units once occupied by Staples and Better Gym for retail and office use.

Work has started on a 4 million pound scheme constructing 22 flats for people with physical and learning disabilities on a former car park on Handford Road, next to the McCarthy & Stone retirement complex which will be known as ‘Handford Place’.

LAY & WHEELER Wine Merchants have applied for a space on the new Wherstead Business Park at the top of Bourne Hill which is yet to be constructed.

The go-ahead has been given for a new PRIMARY SCHOOL with roof-top Multi-Use Games Area on the site of the former Co-op department store in Carr Street. This will involve completely demolishing the fomer store despite efforts by The Ipswich Society to retain the original facade on the Cox Lane corner with Carr Street.

The second stage of a Heritage Lottery Fund bid has been submitted for an 8 million pound reconfiguration of the IPSWICH MUSEUM and Arts Centre on High Street with planning permission already granted.

TIM HORTON CANADIAN RESTAURANTS have submitted plans to convert the former Pizza Hut on Anglia Retail Park into one of their Canadian Restaurants.

Continuing projects around Ipswich  

Work on the ‘BLUE LIGHT HUB’ on Princes Street continues where the town police station, fire station and ambulance station will all be housed together on the one site.

Work is in progress preparing the former Burtons building on St. Peters Wharf for conversion as premises for the GECKO THEATRE COMPANY. The Burtons building will receive an additional floor with a restaurant overlooking the Waterfront if these plans come to fruition. It is hoped to complete the work in 2022.

The former east building (T Block) of the former Suffolk College, now part of the University of Suffolk complex, is currently being restored and updated and converted into a HEALTH AND CARE CENTRE and should match the already restored buildings’ exteriors when the work is complete.  This is the last of the former Suffolk College buildings to be refurbished and will complete this phase of development for the University of Suffolk.

SOFA STORE and LIDL are both expected to open units on the Futura Retail Park (formerly Crane’s; see page 6). Lidl will be replacing their current store in the Ravenswood shopping complex with a bigger store at the Futura Retail Park.

Work has started building the McCARTHY  & STONE retirement complex on the former Archant Newspapers site in Lower Brook Street after a long hold-up, partly because of an archaeological dig followed by the Covid pandemic and more.

Work has started again to complete the reshaping of the entrance to the BUTTERMARKET SHOPPING CENTRE. It appears to be slow at the moment, but it is progressing.

WATERFRONT PAVING is in progress after the successful ban on parking during Covid19.  A parking ban between Ashtons solicitors/the Mariners floating restaurant and the University Waterfront Building is now permanent. The former parking bays are being paved to match the other pedestrian areas and it has been reported that the scheme will include planters and seating to enhance the area. It is hoped that perhaps more outside dining will evolve along the quays and wharfs. The area between DanceEast and PizzaExpress is already a no-traffic zone and has attracted much outside dining.

16 housing association flats in conjunction with Ipswich Borough Council are well advanced along Grimwade Street where a row of shops was demolished last year. With a mixed colour brick facade and hanging tiles on the upper sections these flats should not look too bad and certainly help to tidy up Grimwade Street.

A NEW ENTRANCE TO HEATH ROAD HOSPITAL is under construction and this 23.2 million pound phase (more to come) includes an Urgent Treatment Centre and new shops.

*Work continues on THE HOPE CENTRE in the former Odeon cinema at Majors Corner.


Office block conversions 

A proposal has been put forward to convert ST CLARE HOUSE (the former Inland Revenue offices) on Princes Street into around 100 flats, many of them single room studios.

Direct Line are selling their GILES PLACE call centre office block between Princes Street and Friars Street where it is proposed to create 35 flats. Many Direct Line workers will continue to work from home, while it is reported that Direct Line will also be taking space in the Crown House office complex on Crown Street – already partly occupied by LV Insurance.

CENTURY HOUSE, 39 Princes Street (on the junction with Friars Street) is to be converted into 12 flats.

Tim Leggett

All photographs by Tim Leggett. Waffle in Carr Street; ntourage in Sailmakers shopping centre; Tesco in Tavern Street; Bex bait & tackle in Sailmakers shopping centre; Dough & Co. in Cardinal Park; McCarthy & Stone development in Lower Brook Street (architect's visual); Theatre Square, Civic Drive.

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