Give the Cornhill revamp a chance! You’ll never please everyone

Architects' impression of the new look for Ipswich Cornhill - seen from Tavern Street.

Architects' impression of the new look for Ipswich Cornhill - seen from Tavern Street. - Credit: Archant

When Lord Stuart Rose described the Cornhill as “depressing” at the Beacon Town conference nearly five years ago there was a sharp intake of breath in the Corn Exchange – but deep down almost all of us there knew he was right.

Since there has been a long-running attempt to come up with a design to approve it. It has taken a long time. The first competition to revamp the Cornhill was launched in 2013.

The council was never going to please everyone. The cost of the work was always going to be too high for some people. There are always those who want to see money spent only on hospitals, schools and homeless shelters.

They all need money – but there has to be money spent on economic regeneration too. That brings more money in.

There are those who say “We don’t want money spent on this, we want money spent on getting more big name retailers into the town.”

What do they think this scheme is aimed at? Why would Next, Zara, Karen Millen, or the Disney Store move to a town centre branded depressing by the nation’s best-known retailer if no one locally is prepared to invest in it?

You’re never going to find a scheme that no one objects to. If there was nothing anyone could dislike about it, it would be so bland that no one would remember it.

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When I first heard about the arches sculpture, I was not sure. Now I’ve seen the pictures of them I really think they could become a great modern feature to put this century’s mark on the place.

The 19th century brought the Town Hall and Post Office. The 20th century brought Lloyds Avenue arch and Debenhams. Why shouldn’t our generation make a mark on the Cornhill?

The new-look Cornhill isn’t perfect. But Trafalgar Square isn’t perfect. The Place de la Concorde in Paris isn’t perfect. But it is making a pretty good fist at what we’ve got.