Ipswich's biggest car park to be demolished

IPSWICH'S biggest car park will be demolished after engineers discovered serious structural problems, it was confirmed today.

IPSWICH'S biggest car park is to be demolished after engineers discovered major problems with the structure, it can be revealed today.

Bosses at Ipswich Borough Council have decided to permanently close the 1001-space Crown Car Park, which has been riddled with faults since the 1980s.

The move could be a huge blow to town centre businesses in the run-up to Christmas. However, measures are being put in place to try to compensate the loss of parking spaces.

Speaking at a press conference today, John Carnall, portfolio holder for finance, said: “The last thing we wanted to do was shut this car park just before Christmas because it is important for providing spaces for visitors who will hopefully support businesses.”

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He said leaking water had caused irreparable corrosion to the reinforced metal within some of the concrete ramps, prompting the building to be temporarily closed last month.

It is not yet known when demolition will take place, but there are hopes of salvaging the ground floor and adding a new temporary storey to create a 350-space building by September next year.

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In the mean time, a number of initiatives are being rolled out to limit the damage to Christmas shopping.

The free shuttle bus service will be extended until 10pm on Thursday late-night shopping evenings - of which the first of five will take place on November 19 - and between 9am and 6pm on Saturdays.

The service, which runs every 20 minutes, will now also stop at the Portman Road and Ipswich Village car parks.

A new 20-space car park is to be created in Bond Street and the borough will be negotiating with town centre landowners to provide other spaces.

There is also expected to be a freeze on the 3.2% increase in parking charges, which were due to take effect from January.

Ipswich Central will also be on board to help attract people to the town centre.

The proposals were due to be put before the council's executive committee for approval tonight.

Tanya De Hoedt, portfolio holder for Transport and Highways Services, said: “I don't think the impact on retailers will be significant.

“Once we have got the message out in partnership with Ipswich Central and bus companies, I don't think there will be a big impact on retailers.”

The car park, which opened in 1974, has been repaired ten times since 1986 with the last major work carried out in 2006.

In the last 11 years, the council has spent �1.5million on maintenance, but car park generated �700,000 profit a year.

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