Creating a brief
With support from the steering group, Ipswich Borough Council developed a brief for the area action plan.
The aim of the plan was, “to make IP-One the place to live, work, study and play and to promote, through public and private investment, the very best in urban design and movement strategies for a sustainable future.”
Following an open competition and interview, Ipswich Borough Council appointed Urban Initiatives to prepare the area action plan.
Developing a baseline
Urban Initiatives conducted a thorough examination of the IP-One area, to provide a robust baseline for the plan. The exercise involved visiting, mapping and photographing the area, as well as researching its history. Ipswich Borough Council worked closely with Urban Initiatives to help the design team understand how the town functions.
The baseline examination concentrated on the places with the greatest opportunity and pressure for change and focused on five key points:
- character, landscape and townscape issues
- existing and proposed uses
- provision of improved pedestrian and cycle linkages
- planning for sustainable transport and traffic management
- encouraging mixed uses for retail, residential, leisure and commercial development.
Urban Initiatives identified a number of strengths within the IP-One area, including
- the wet dock
- the historic core
- attractive public spaces
- a network of narrow lanes
- a pedestrian-friendly centre
- high quality listed buildings.
Engaging local people
One of Urban Initiatives’ first tasks was to lead consultations with local people – those with particular interests in the area and those who stood to be most affected by change. This helped to identify priorities for the area action plan:
- improving public transport
- developing a mix of uses
- maintaining the historic fabric
- encouraging economic development.
- strengthening links between the central area and waterfront
Urban Initiatives distributed leaflets outlining these issues to local residents, to obtain feedback and produce a hierarchy of importance. The developing plan was also shared with other organisations and local interest groups, including English Heritage, Associated British Ports, the town centre manager, representatives of local retailers and council departments.
Developing the plan
A diagram showing the four nodes within IP-One provided a structure for the urban design and masterplanning process. Urban Initiatives began developing the plan at a high level, looking at the character of each of the four nodes and investigating potential public transport, pedestrian and cycle links between different sites. The Urban Initiatives team also constructed a physical model of the IP-One area, using bulk scale and massing principles to understand the relationships between existing and emerging developments at each site.
The plan took into account a number of area-wide issues, including flood prevention, transport and the provision of open spaces. Urban Initiatives obtained input from highways and traffic management professionals at Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council, as well as consultants working on a flood risk strategy for the area.
Delivering the programme
The phasing of development proposed in the area action plan was kept flexible to fit in with funding opportunities. Urban Initiatives reviewed each viable development and assessed it against the aims and objectives of the plan. The fastest-moving area was the high value waterfront, which included the redevelopment of Cranfield Mill and the university campus. Ipswich Borough Council anticipated that the campus would extend footfall along the waterfront, creating a more sustainable mix of uses and improving connections with neighbouring areas and facilities.