Located on the Orwell estuary Ipswich was an important industrial port. By the 1980s many of the waterfront buildings had become vacant. Residential developments in the 1990s and early 2000s were built but without an overall vision for the areas transformation. Ipswich Borough Council was concerned that planning proposals were not bringing a mix of uses to the area.
Creating a vision
Ipswich Borough Council wanted to develop a long-term vision for 280 hectares of land in the centre of town – an area known as IP-One. A steering group made up of Ipswich Borough Council, CABE, the East of England Development Agency and Suffolk County Council decided to commission an area action plan for IP-One.
Four key areas were identified:
- The waterfront is located to the south of the town centre and covers 80 hectares of land and buildings around a wet dock. It was designated a conservation area in 1991. The main challenge was to develop this area beyond its existing residential and leisure uses, while respecting its conservation status.
- The railway station is a commuter hub that needed to be linked to the emerging public sector office quarter, town centre and waterfront.
- The town centre had become cut off from the waterfront by vacant sites and a one-way road system.
- The education quarter is located in the east of the town and extends as far as the waterfront encompassing Suffolk New College and University College Suffolk. A key aim was to create additional uses along the waterfront to support daytime and evening activity.
A long-term approach
Preparing the area action plan was the first stage in a process that developed over a number of years. More detailed urban design and masterplanning briefs were subquently written for several development sites including Ipswich Village.