Ipswich: Victorian heart of Waterfront site is likely to be demolished

THE Victorian heart of Cranfields Mill is likely to be demolished in an attempt to breathe new life into one of the Waterfront’s major developments.

The scheme to convert the site into a major housing development on the Waterfront included retaining the original Victorian frontage on to the Wet Dock.

This remains in place next to Dance East’s Jerwood DanceHouse but its redevelopment was halted when Wharfside Regeneration went into administration two years ago.

Now it seems unlikely that this element of the project will ever be completed – and the building is likely to be demolished.

Behind it there is a square formed with three other buildings of flats which have been completed.

If the old Victorian-fronted building were demolished it would transform the area into a piazza beside the water – and such a move has widespread support.

Administrator Nigel Millar of Baker Tilly, who is now handling both The Mill and the neighbouring Regatta Quay development, confirmed that demolition is one option being considered.

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He said: “The building does not have any special protection (it is not listed) and there would be difficulties in converting it. It would probably improve the whole development if the square was opened up.”

That view has been endorsed by the Ipswich Society. Chairman John Norman said the Wet Dock frontage is now little more than a Victorian facade – a functional silo was built behind it in the 1960s.

He said: “When the development proposal was first drawn up in consultation with Bob Kindred at the borough in the 1990s it was felt to be worth saving. But as the rest of the building was demolished it became clear there are major problems in doing anything with that and it is difficult to see how it could be used even in the long term.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer added: “It would be good to clear that site and open up that area which would complete that part of the Waterfront and make it much more attractive.”

Borough leader David Ellesmere said any changes would have to be carefully considered by planners, and he would personally be sorry to lose part of the town’s Victorian heritage.

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