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How the New Wolsey Theatre is changing the face of Ipswich – first look at £2.8m development

PUBLISHED: 16:44 12 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:45 12 March 2020

The new build has a unique zig-zagged roof which will be gold   Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The new build has a unique zig-zagged roof which will be gold Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

By this summer the New Wolsey will have been transformed from a largely derelict square into a “golden and warm” community hub of activity as part of their exciting remodelling of the site.

Matthew Linley Admin Director and Sarah Holmes Chief Executive from the New Wolsey Theatre, with Shaun Whiting Project manager fro Gipping and Neil Daines Facilities manager at the theatre.   Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDMatthew Linley Admin Director and Sarah Holmes Chief Executive from the New Wolsey Theatre, with Shaun Whiting Project manager fro Gipping and Neil Daines Facilities manager at the theatre. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Permission for development of the old Ipswich Borough Council's Civic Centre, the land above the spiral car park in Civic Drive and the external facade of the New Wolsey, was granted in December 2019.

MORE: New-look New Wolsey coming as theatre Square rejuvenation project approved

The £2.8million project will eventually see activities move from the St George's Street studio into a new golden-roofed building out the front of the theatre.

Sarah Holmes, Chief Executive of the New Wolsey, said: 'The site was deteriorating after the council and police moved away, it used to be a hub of civic activity and that's what we want it to be again.

An artist's impression of the new community arts pavilion outside the New Wolsey Theatre on Civic Drive Photo:WG+P architectsAn artist's impression of the new community arts pavilion outside the New Wolsey Theatre on Civic Drive Photo:WG+P architects

'The recession hit hard and we came up with loads of schemes but nothing stuck.

'This building will be iconic - beautifully lit with plants and a gleaming golden roof, a cosy space for everyone.

'We want to remodel the gateway into Ipswich from Norwich Road and London Road and hopefully our development will inspire more of the same in the area.'

Matthew Linley is director of administration and is keen to see all of the theatre's work in one space, making sure people are aware of all the Wolsey offers.

Inside the new build at the New Wolsey Theatre, whichwas originally a walk way up to the theatre   Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDInside the new build at the New Wolsey Theatre, whichwas originally a walk way up to the theatre Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

'We are so excited about this project ,' he said.

'We have a lot of projects and we want to be able to use the new building to showcase that. We want to do more with our community and make our community feel they can do more.'

Once the work is complete the building will be used for work with primary schools, workshops and events and will even have a state of the art changing facility for disabled people with hoists and other necessary equipment - all to be made available to those in who need it in Ipswich.

The building, on the site of the spiral car park, is just one part of the project - the next stage will see a revamp of the inside of the theatre itself to ensure the new look is reflected throughout.

The new facilitiy will be a combination of offices, meeting areas with a digital editing suit and more  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDThe new facilitiy will be a combination of offices, meeting areas with a digital editing suit and more Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Mrs Holmes added: 'We are very grateful to Nicholas de Savary for essentially gifting the development to us and the hard work of Gipping Construction.'

While contrsuction is expected to be complete by June, it will not be until January 2021 that the full programme of activities launches.


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