Democracy is at an all time low in Ipswich. Ipswich Borough Council’s planning committee has just approved unpopular and controversial plans to wreck the Cornhill, despite the Ipswich Society strongly objecting to it and all bar one public representation to the planning application was negatively against it.
This is on top of thousands of unfavourable comments to the previous designs at public consultation (We will publish this in due course), the refusal of a new public consultation and Ipswich Vision approving the design on behalf of the people.
This signals the end for the Ipswich Society as far as we are concerned. The once great organisation is just too passive. Organising a meeting after the closing date for representation is a little worrying. They also were happy with Great White Horse Hotel plans. It appears to be an organisation creating theatre for like-minded individuals with an interest in Ipswich, going through the motions and not isolated from local government influence.
Parts of Ipswich will excel. However, the very soul has been sucked out of the place. The Cornhill will not turnaround the town’s fortunes in respect to retail. The emphasis on upgrading Princes Street, Queen Street and Coytes Gardens does nothing for the town.
Despite the artist impression, this won’t attract middle class residents. Those attracted to water fountains will not spend money in shops. People won’t queue up at night to see it lit up.
Worse of all, exit the Cornhill… you have the really tired paving of the rest of the town centre… this is where the shops are. Looks like we are waving goodbye to M&S. I really don’t know why they didn’t choose Arras Square to redesign and a couple of other parts of town with that budget such as Lloyds Avenue.
With the housing planned for Grafton Way, Wine Rack, Museum Street conversions and the like – all south of the town centre – and northern fringe to the north, this signals the end of the town centre. Most residents already consider the town centre died years ago.
The entire expensive exercise was down to Ben Gummer inviting ex-M&S boss down to a conference, who made the remark of improving it by adding some outside dining. Nothing too fancy. Ben Gummer thought it would be the ideal opportunity to spend as much money as possible to be able to quote large figures of investment that he has gained for the town, whilst the council vetoed for a Cornhill restaurant, and got carried away on a completely different project with different objectives.