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Newsletter, January 2014 (Issue 194)

Chairman's remarks


I will open this quarter's comments with a massive thank you to the team who put together the Society's Annual Awards evening last November. I unfortunately missed the presentations but all reports suggest this was an excellent evening, and that is reassuring given that 2013 had not been a good year for completed projects. In fact Vice-President Bob Allen critically commented on some very ordinary nominations. However, as you will read elsewhere in this Newsletter, and thanks to the difficult work of the judging panel, three projects were singled out for an award.

It is with great sadness that I report the death of Russell Nunn, who had been an Executive Committee member for some time, with the mandate of reporting on traffic and transport, a subject in which he excelled (and which was completely different to his professional background). Russell particularly understood the in-depth workings of public transport, buses and trains and was always reporting the latest changes that affected Ipswich residents. We will miss his considered and considerable contributions to The Ipswich Society.

I continue to receive emails from members enquiring into the current status of the revamp of the Cornhill; you will recall Sir Stuart Rose suggesting that improvement would help regenerate the town centre which was followed by an architectural competition. The Judging Panel met in September and decided that there was no single design worthy - at that stage - of being awarded the brief. However two architectural practices were invited to clarify / modify their submissions which were then considered by the Panel in November 2013. At the time of writing, late November 2013, no further announcements have yet been made.

The Cornhill is the most public of our town spaces, the one most visited by the people of Ipswich and it is central to our town life, therefore we remain disappointed that public consultation has been, to say the least, sparse.

The architectural press and some in the profession locally report that there is an upturn in interest in building projects, especially those that have lain dormant for a couple of years. Don't get over-excited however; there is still very little start-up money about and professional fees are as low as ever. One underlying cause is that we all rely on local government as the generator of work, either directly or as a consequential knock-on effect and almost nothing is on the cards - for obvious reasons.

Perhaps one snippet of good news is that the half-completed flats on the northern quays of the Waterfront - including 'the Winerack' - have, reportedly been sold, in at least one case, to a local developer. Again, if you have money to invest over the long term you might just get a better return out of Waterfront flats than the financial markets are currently offering (which means the investor will sit on his assets until the economy substantially improves - i.e. don't expect the builders on site any time soon).

John Norman

"In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists." -Eric Hoffer

    Front cover of issue 194 Cover, issue 194

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