Ipswich: UCS to get more time for new development

THE development of new UCS buildings at Orwell Quay could be delayed by up to five years because of the sluggish economic recovery.

But eventually it is likely to become student accommodation and an outdoor sports area for the university.

The land at Orwell Quay was handed to UCS by the borough council in 2006 with a requirement that development should be completed by the end of March 2013. If it was not then the land could be handed back between 2013 and 2014.

The James Hehir Building and an accommodation block was built on part of the land, and some was landscaped as part of the UCS estate.

However about 35 per cent of the land – where the Ipswich Beer Festival has been held for the last two years – remains undeveloped.

The borough’s executive is today being recommended to accept that the deadline for completing the development of this site should be put off by five years – to the end of March 2018. There are no firm plans for the future of the site – although the report says that UCS has begun the process of seeking bidders for the provision of more student accommodation on the site.

UCS finance director Tim Greenacre said the process of looking for a partner to build student accommodation was well under way.

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He said: “We are getting on with this – we hope the redevelopment will have been completed well before 2018 but we do need to get this extension from the borough.”

The land is the other side of the James Hehir Building to the “Shed Eight” site, currently used as the Waterfront Car Park, which UCS bought earlier this year.

It hopes to build more academic facilities on that site, possibly with retail units, cafes, and bars on the ground floor and could also include conference facilities and more student accommodation.

Mr Greenacre added: “These two developments should seal UCS’ position on the Waterfront and establish it as a major university.”

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere will be proposing the extension to tonight’s meeting, and said the development of UCS remained a good news story for the town.

He said: “This is an extension to the schedule, but things are happening there – so it is not a case of things coming to a halt.

“It will be good to get things started there within the next couple of years, but it was never going to be possible to get it finished by March next year and this recognises that.”

Mr Ellesmere agreed that the development at Orwell Quay, linked with the future buildings on the Shed Eight site, would give UCS and important new profile across the country as Britain’s leading “Waterfront Campus” and felt it would attract many more students.

Is the expansion of UCS good for the town? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk

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