A two-day workshop with the above title was held at Ipswich Town Hall/Corn
Exchange on 5-6 February. It was organised by the Commission for
Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) and the British Urban
Regeneration Association. Peter Underwood represented the Society and I also
On the first evening, Annie Atkins, the Regional Co-ordinator for CABE,
introduced the 'Fundamentals of Urban Design'to a distinguished audience of
architects, planners, local government officers and lay-persons, all with
strong interest in the development of our town. She enthused about modern
architecture and architecture in an urban context, a good briefing for the
exercise that was to follow the next day. Key themes included ensuring that
good quality (pedestrian) links were established between residences and the
various hubs - shops, transport, entertainment, etc.
On Thursday we assembled in the Town Hall and were introduced to the
ten-strong CABE facilitators. Six teams, each a regional mix of
participants, were assigned the task of considering the future of the land
between Upper Brook Street and Grimwade Street - the currently yet to be
developed Mint Quarter and SCC's St Helen's Court. Bob Kindred and Rod Lay
led informative conducted tours, primarily for the out-of-town participants.
Back to the Town Hall, and working in our allocated groups, we set about
considering the possible development framework for this east of the town
centre area, applying what had been said the previous evening, what we knew
was possible in Ipswich and what had been achieved (and planned) elsewhere.
Much debate ensued, ideas explored and rejected, and the practical solutions
analysed. Thus, at the end of the afternoon, each team presented its
findings. You will appreciate that there were too many to list here - other
than those repeated by most.
Notably these included the problems created by buses in Upper Brook Street
and how this had potential to sever the Mint Quarter land from the core of
the town centre. Most groups suggested
moving these buses further east, an idea that has been discussed in our
Two groups wanted to divide the space that is currently Cox Lane car park
into nine blocks (grid pattern) with a pedestrianised east-west lane between
the end of the Butter Market and the Church of St Michael [see drawing
opposite] which would make a good closure to the views along the lane. There
would be a second east-west lane a short distance further south on a line
St Stephen's Church Lane and Upper Orwell Court, and two north-south lanes,
both currently in evidence on the ground - one alongside the existing
Woolworth's store down to Winofield Street and one on the line of Cox Lane.
The central square of this grid could then become a town centre space,
urban in design, with hard landscape features
rather than grass but with trees to add greenery. The other sections could
retain their existing shops (outward facing to Carr Street, Upper Brook
Street and Upper Orwell Street) and gain new units facing the lanes. There
would be space for a market and space to relocate - for example Woolworth's
- should an anchor store be required, and space for town centre living above
the shops. Ipswich planners were present and took part, so they have the
message. We now need to convince the developers.
JOHN NORMAN with PETER UNDERWOOD