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Newsletter, April 2003 (Issue 151)

Urban Design in Ipswich


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 attended.

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 Newsletter previously.

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 between

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

    Front cover of issue 151 Cover, issue 151

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