...it's our town

Listed Buildings
of Ipswich Ancient House (Grade I)

Newsletter, July 2014 (Issue 196)

Letters to the Editor

Ipswich football ground
from Ben Gummer MP

I was bemused by Colin Kreidewolf's letter claiming that there was 'a worrying trend' of the Society's Newsletter containing inaccuracies, not least because his own letter contained one. He claimed that I had put a value of a million pounds on the football ground, which I have never done.

I must congratulate Mr Kreidewolf, however, for using the powers in the Localism Act 2011 to help protect the Portman Road ground. It is a fine piece of legislation and I was pleased to have voted for it myself, on behalf of Mr Kreidewolf and all my constituents. I am glad that is being put to good use.

Nothing Changes! 41 years ago...
from Chris Wiltshire

I'm a continual reader of James Lees-Milne's Diaries. I suppose he might need some introduction to members but his long association with heritage and conservation matters makes him a very interesting commentator.

Diary entry Saturday 25th November 1972:

"I lose battles all along the line, The Rural District Council has decided - I knew of course that they would - to allow the erection of an enormous cow factory in the Ozleworth valley behind this village [a Cotswold area close to J L-M's house at Alderley], in spite of the valley being within the AONB which stands for Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. These designations mean absolutely nothing. There is always a reason venal or financial - same thing - for the local authority to give way. Beauty of the landscape is absolutely at a discount in England. Let us face it. The most beautiful country in Northern Europe in my youth will before my death be irredeemably ruined, damned and finished. Within one's lifetime - it is a terrifying thought; and since it coincides within my lifetime I feel fractionally responsible". From: A Mingled Measure, James Lees-Milne Diaries 1953-1972, pub. John Murray 1994

Do members feel that Lees-Milne was being overly conservative, pessimistic and reactionary? After all, he was largely responsible for managing the handover of some of the best houses that the National Trust now cares for. Without his advocacy and skills many would have been demolished in the 1930s to 1950s.

AGM: Cornhill
from Kay McElhinney

During the talk at the AGM by Richard Lister and Paul Clement, something was bothering me about their presentation but I couldn't put my finger on quite what. Afterwards it dawned on me what the problem was: whereas during their 'pitch' they reiterated their main campaigning point - i.e. to join the town centre to the Waterfront and restore the North-south axis of the town and the flow of pedestrian traffic in that direction - the design for the Cornhill they are proposing reinforces the current East-West axis and runs counter to their main campaign.

The layout for the new Cornhill runs East-West; the paving design draws the eye East-West; the visual focal point (the tower) is on the East-West axis; and from what I could see, in order to use what is currently the most popular route to the Waterfront on the north-south axis, pedestrians will have to negotiate a flight of steps which could prove to be a barrier. And if they are keen to stimulate retail in the town centre, where traditional shop-based retail is failing and the main recent retail successes have been the various markets which bring a lot of people into the town, why restrict the space available? Why not use the North-South axis and bring Lloyds Avenue, Princes Street and Queen Street into the market's usable space and really join the town centre to the Waterfront?

As a secondary issue, I am concerned about the expense of creating better access to the Town Hall via the steps and losing the steps as picturesque amenity (choirs at Christmas, UCS new-graduate photos, for example) before a plan has been drawn up for how the interior will be used and how it will need to be reconfigured, as once that is done perhaps it may turn out that the best entrance might be via Princes Street and the entrance via the steps could be redundant?

AGM: Ipswich town centre development
from Ken Wilson

The speakers at the AGM provoked a lively debate and it was clear that the future of our town centre, particularly the shops, is dear to the hearts of our members.

I felt my thoughts drifting back some years to the time when two or three shopping precincts were on offer and after much careful consideration and debate approval was given to Tower Ramparts. We were assured that because we were a little later than many places we would have a really first-class product, the faults that had emerged in early schemes having all been ironed out. Ours consequently would be flawless.

A couple of years later Tower Ramparts was extensively remodelled.

When not long afterwards the Buttermarket precinct appeared we were invited to make an inspection and a large group from the Society was shown round. During the discussion that followed I referred to the Tower Ramparts experience and asked the manager how long it would be before his development would need to be adapted. He paused to smile indulgently at my naivety then said firmly that this shopping precinct was undoubtedly complete.

A couple of years later history repeated itself.

What this tells me is that the confident assertions of those most ready to assure us that they know just what is needed to revitalise our town must be treated with a degree of caution.

AGM: Steps and slopes for the Cornhill?
from Neil Salmon

Our speakers at the Society's AGM, Paul Clement and Richard Lister, made an admirable case for "turning our town around". I am sure that their strategic vision is the way forward, in recognising above all that:

1. The Wet Dock enables the modern Waterfront to be the unique asset of the town.

2. Therefore linking the Waterfront with the town centre is crucial.

3. Modern methods of shopping mean that the town centre must offer more mixed attractions.

4. Some superfluous shops will need to be converted to include residential uses.

5. Attracting new private investment is essential.

My only personal issue of disagreement is their support for proposals to create different levels of the Cornhill which would have potentially hazardous steps and slopes. My view is that the Cornhill is already a small area for a large town. To create different levels would make it less, not more, flexible. Despite its present natural slope, it is possible to include an enlarged and varying market, and on other days events involving free movement across the whole space.

If improving access to the Town Hall is one reason for changing levels of the Cornhill, that seems to me too big a price to pay. I hope my criticism will be seen not as nostalgic or reactionary but as purely practical.

    Front cover of issue 196 Cover, issue 196

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