The Cornhill Regeneration Project started back in 2012. It was at a conference to discuss the current and future state of Ipswich that the then Sir (now Lord) Stuart Rose blasted Ipswich’s town centre; saying it was ‘depressing’. This set in-motion a chain of events to rethink the town, The Ipswich Vision project was born.
At both the core of the Vision project and the town, was the regeneration of the Cornhill. A project to showcase the architecture, heritage and culture of the town, right at the heart. This will be a phased project which has been funded by Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk County Council, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and Ipswich Central.
It will deliver a high-quality design and revitalisation of the Cornhill central square; to solidify its status as the main activity hub in the town. It will enable it to become a flexible and unique space for ongoing activity and showcase the town’s cultural events.
Following lengthy public consultations, in 2016, architects Hall McKnight were selected to design the scheme. Work started on the Cornhill in January this year and it is estimated to be completed by the end of October.
The main components of the scheme will include new paving and landscaping, a water feature, four sculptural archways, new trees, benches and a lighting scheme.
The four arches will each be approximately 4.5m high and will incorporate designs to represent the four main themes of Ipswich: its Pioneers, Maritime Heritage, History and its football. The position of the gateways will reflect the locations of the four original town gateways, of which the West gate was the most prominent.
The project will help to cement the Cornhill as the retail and commercial centre of Ipswich. With changing patterns of shopping and behaviour our high streets and town centres need to be more ‘experiential’. The Cornhill will soon have Pret a Manger (in the Old Grimwades store) and it is hoped that more businesses will follow.
The ‘wow’ factor will return in time for Christmas; giving us a town centre to be proud of.