University of Suffolk Masterplan

Status: Proposal
Type: Education, masterplan
Year: 2008, 2011

Prior to the construction of Suffolk University, founded as University Campus Suffolk in 2007, an indicative master plan was drawn up by RMJM Architects, in conjunction with Suffolk New College Architects Sheppard Robson. The idea was to create a landscaped pedestrian thoroughfare from the waterfront to the college, resulting in the entire demolition of the 1960s college buildings.


Indicative layout, prior to 2008


Indicative layout of northern campus prior to 2008

2008 revised master plan

The university campus master plan was updated in 2008 following the planning applications of the James Hehir building and Athena Hall and consisted of three stages.


Phase 1 saw the construction of the Waterfront Building at a of cost £35 million, £15 million over the original estimated cost. Phase 1 of the campus was the only completed phase of this master plan.

Phase 2 consisted of the development of the Orwell Quay waterfront site with the construction of the James Hehir building and Athena Hall, with the remaining area being dedicated to future development. The space next to the James Hehir building was landscaped to become a temporay park, and was to see the constructiuon of two new buildings.

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Phase 2 with future development planned

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James Hehir building with and without future development

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Indicative render of James Hehir building and future development

Phase 3 was the redevelopment of the north campus, and called for the complete demolition of the old college building. An underground car park was hinted at with the whole area being built on for the campus. Phase 3 was never started and incorporated only the new Suffolk New College building as the plan states. The area has since had a 1960s building converted into the ‘Atrium’ as well as receiving a new proposal to construct The ‘Hold’ (new records office) on site.


Indicative aerial sketch of phase 3

2011 master plan

In 2011, following consultations with stakeholders, Ipswich Borough Council and University of Suffolk; following consideration of capacity, aspirations, timescale and affordability, a new master plan was devised. The plan covered 12 years of development and the Orwell Quay campus remained largely unchanged, however, the Shed 8 site was acquired following the collapse of the Orwell Quay proposal, allowing for the campus to shift its expansion efforts south, creating a coherent waterfront campus. As a result, the northern campus was drastically reduced in size and proposed the idea for housing on the site.


Waterfront campus 2011-2023 proposed development

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North campus 2011-2023 proposed development

Master plan as of 2017

As of the end of 2017, only four of the originally planned buildings have been constructed. The 2011-2023 plan seems to be behind schedule and somewhat altered. The Orwell Quay site has been marked for the construction of four new faculty buildings, none of them have a proposal but the sites are currently marked for educational use.

The northern campus is no longer following the 2011 plan with the recent conversion of a 1960s building into the ‘Atrium’ and the recent planning application for ‘The Hold’ on what was designated to be a car park. Following The Hold’s application, calls have been made for a master plan to be drawn up for the northern campus to allow the site to develop coherently. Following the recent Ipswich Plan, the northern campus, on the site of proposed housing, proposed the idea for a primary school, however, whether this will become reality remains to be seen as no legitimate plans have been made in regards to this proposal.

Images: RMJM Architects, Sheppard Robson Architects


The collapse of over £400 million of development

Since 2004 in Ipswich Central alone, Ipswich has seen the collapse of almost £500 million of development. People in Ipswich often settle for any small development and see it as a win, such as the Cornhill, however, this video shows why people should want more. Since 2004, Central Ipswich alone has seen the collapse of over £400 million of development. Ipswich is a large town with a small town mentality, we should, however, be a greater developed county town. Proposals should not be willingly approved, but there needs to be a greater emphasis on coherent, planned development, not small scale proposals.

Headlam Distribution Centre

Status: Approved
Use: Warehouse
Year: 2016
Developer: Headlam group plc
Price: £15 million

A planning application for the construction of a new distribution centre comprising of 11,500sqm of warehousing was submitted in 2016 and was approved in January 2017, despite local opposition. Headlam, whom own Faithfulls Flooring, will move the existing distribution centre in Hadleigh, to a new site behind Anglia Retail Park which backs onto Old Norwich Road. The company hope the distribution centre will be operational in 2019 and say it will create 80 new jobs.

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The proposal was met with criticism, mostly from residents living in Old Norwich Road who were concerned by the size of the development, noise and light pollution, and flooding and drainage. Other criticisms included the fact that 80 new jobs included those relocating from the Hadleigh centre, so questions were raised about the actual amount of new jobs being created. 30 conditions were imposed on the application, most to ensure that impact on neighbours was minimised. The proposal was accepted as councillors believed the area was well suited for a distribution centre, with its quick access to the A14.

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Images: BDP Architects

Key Street Student Housing

Status: Lapsed
Use: Student housing
Year: 2009
Developer: City Living Developments (Ipswich) Ltd

In 2009, a proposal was submitted for the construction of two student accommodation blocks with a total of 371 units. The buildings were named Triangle West (in between Foundation Street and Lower Orwell Street) and Triangle East (in between Lower Orwell Street and Slade Street) due to the shape of the site. Triangle West would have consited of 173 units while Triangle East would have contained 198 units. The development also planned to incorporate 9 commercial units on the ground floor.


View looking east into the courtyard from Foundation Street.

A previous application for the same scheme a year prior was rejected on the grounds that the design was too imposing on the St Mary at Quay church as well as poor air quality reports not meeting planning requiremnets. The 2009 application was approved.

The design was similar to The Mill as both were designed by John Lyall Architects. Similar to St Peter’s Port, this development Incorporated a retail thoroughfare safe from the surrounding roads. This would have increased accessibility from the town centre to the waterfront. The proposal was seen to be a good use of the site and the design was seen as adequate by the planning committee. Despite some praising the design approach to the brownfield site, others criticised the scale as well as being against student housing in this location.


The development also had the same developer as The Mill, City Living Developments (Ipswich) Ltd, whom were behind much of the regeneration of the waterfront. They went into administration in 2010, resulting in the concrete skeleton – the winerack and the majority of The Mill’s interior remaining unfinished. This scheme as a result of the developers administration collapsed as a result.

Both sites have since been developed, on the east site, a six storey Premier Inn was constructed and on the west site, the extension and redevelopment of St Mary at Quay and accompanying car park has occupied the site. This was not the only ill fated large student housing scheme at the time. Others included, Luminis.

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Images: John Lyall Architects

Mather Way mixed used development

Status: Lapsed
Type: Residential, retail
Year: 2006

In 2006 there was a large scale mixed-used proposal for the construction of a 7 storey block of 47 flats, ground and first floor commercial/restaurant/retail use. The brownfield site, formerly home to low grade industrial units, surrounds the Steamboat Tavern and was envisioned as a landmark development for the west side of the waterfront, which was largely undeveloped at the time.


The proposal was met with criticism, especially by the adjacent tavern whom were concerned that the building was not in the character of the area, too large and would reduce privacy and light in the beer garden. Music from the pub was not ‘compatible’ with proposed apartments and caused further concern for the longevity of the tavern, if the development was constructed. There was also concern that mixing affordable and private housing in the same block would not work.

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In 2010, an application for extension of time limit to the existing planning application was approved, however, no progress was made on the proposal. This development ultimately lapsed, partly due to design and planning issues, but ultimately due to fear of over supply.

In 2017, a new proposal was submitted for the construction of 21 houses on this site, however, the proposal was withdrawn, possibly due to the site being located in the possible area for one of the bridges part of the Upper Orwell Crossings proposal.


Images: Stanley Bragg Architects

Burrell Road student housing

Status: Lapsed
Type: Student housing
Year: 2005

A proposal was submitted in 2005 for the construction of a 6-storey block of student accommodation, comprising of 146 student rooms and 8 apartments in Burrell Road. The site, adjacent to Bridge Street, was formerly workshops and has since been used as a temporary car park. The design of the proposal was met with criticism, especially from local residents whom were concerned with the imposing scale along Burrell Road, despite this the proposal was accepted. Yet, possibly due to market forces as well as the fact that the University was not yet constructed, this proposal lapsed. The now abandoned site, used as a temporary car park, has not seen any new proposals since, and remains undeveloped.

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View from Grafton Way

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Burrell Road elevation

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Massing study

Images: Beanland Associates Architects

Sandy Hill Lane Asda

Status: Lapsed
Type: Retail
Year: 2006

In 2006, Asda submitted two separate proposals for the construction of two new superstores. One in Stoke Park and the other in Sandy Hill Lane, with the hope of both opening in the Summer of 2007. The Stoke Park store was constructed, while the Sandy Hill Lane application ultimately collapsed. The proposal would have seen the construction of a 6038m2 retail store, new access roundabout and landscaping.screenshot-189.png

The design for this store went through two design iterations (images are of the original design submitted in 2006). While the Stoke Park store was accpeted, this proposal stalled partly due to the design and access issues. The design was too imposing, thus, a new application was submitted in 2007 with a new design which removed the barn like roof and contemporary entrance, replacing it with a design reminiscent of older stores with a low roof line and tower at the entrance.

The developer, Beadie Group had offered to build the hotly contentious proposal for an east bank relief road between the docks and the A14. It was concluded that this proposal did not need such infrastructure investment for the proposal to be constructed. However, access and traffic impact remained an issue. It was hoped that the construction of this store would aid development of the east bank.

However, this proposal lapsed, possibly due to fear of over supply, especially with the economic situation at the time. Asda could not risk building both stores. Along with this the site itself was causing problems and the worry about traffic impact remained. This proposal has completely fallen through and the site has since received a new proposal in 2017 opting for residential use with the erection 85 homes.screenshot-187.png

Images: AHA Architects

12 houses on the former social club in Rope Walk

Status: Approved
Type: Residential
Year: 2017

A proposal has been approved for the demolition of the former council county social club in Rope Walk with the erection of 12 new houses (6x two-bedroom, 5x three-bedroom and 1x four-bedroom), 2 flats (1x one bedroom and 1x studio) and 4 offices, with a total of 19 parking spaces. An issue relating to access of the site had delayed the proposal but having been resolved, the application was overwhelmingly approved by the planning committee. The buildings themselves will consist of a geometric, contemporary design, clad in white, red and grey render with wooden cladding.


The original social club was built in the 1960s and was home to the social club for Suffolk County Council for decades until their relocation to Endeavour House in 2004. More recently, it was the student union bar for Suffolk College, however, it has sat vacant for many years which has aided the increased crime rate in Rope Walk. Drugs paraphernalia has been found on the site and Rope walk, earlier in 2017, was the scene of a serious sexual assault. This is one of the main reasons for the application being overwhelmingly approved.

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Images: Medusa Design Architects

92 new council houses in Ravenswood

Status: Approved
Type: Residential
Year: 2014/17

In 2014, Ipswich Borough Council, submitted a proposal consisting of 94 council homes on the site along Downham Boulevard and Fen Bright Circle in Ravenswood. At the time, Mr Ellesmere said the latest application showed councillors were “really delivering” on their election promise in building more council houses.


Little progression was made, and in June of 2016 the scheme was called in for review by the government. Greg Clark, secretary of state for communities and local government at time refused the application as it did not include a mix of affordable and private houses. This was met with mixed response.

The Ravenswood Residents’ Association (RRA) voiced there support, arguing that the proposal should have followed the mixed tenure design found elsewhere on Ravenswood. Support was also in favour for the decision as the ‘Thrasher pub’ roundabout is becoming evermore congested.

Mr Ellesmere was shocked by the decision, saying

“This is astonishing. I cannot think of an application turned down because the housing wasn’t expensive enough.

“The length of time it has taken to take this decision is likely to cost the council millions of pounds in lost rent, grants and increased construction costs, while families have been left languishing on the waiting list.”


In 2017, the proposal has once again arisen, with the council hoping for construction to begin in early 2018. However, after the governments 2014 decision, the development is currently limited to 15 council homes. Mr Ellesmere said

“That is frustrating but we have set up a new council-owned company, Handford Homes, to do that in Ipswich.” In the hope, this will allow the development to go ahead.

The contemporary design is unlikely to change from the 2014 specification. The scheme, just like 2014, has raised concerns over traffic impact and questions of whether Nacton Road can cope with more traffic. At present, this will not be the last development on Ravenswood, due to space adjacent to the food outlets at the entrance to the housing development.

Images: CH Architects


Status: Pending
Type: Hotel/residential
Year: 2017

The development of this site has been long awaited ever since Tesco withdrew their plans in 2012. The architects, Mountford Pigott, whom also designed the Tesco proposal have designed a residential led mixed-used development consisting of 130 houses, 81 flats in a 12 storey tower, 48 live-work units, 60 bed hotel, 6 restaurants and a pedestrian walk way connecting the river path to the Princes Street Bridge.

Though development of this site is supported, this proposal has been met with criticism for a number of reason. Firstly, all 259 residential units will be accessed via two roads, connecting to Commercial Road and Grafton Way, both of which are heavily congested. Minimal road upgrades are present in the design.


The 12 storey tower, of which has been criticised for its design, would become the 13th tallest structure in Ipswich and would contain 81 residential units and along with the adjacent six storey building, they would both contain six restaurants which would be direct competition with Cardinal Park. The six storey building would also contain a gym and a 60 bed hotel on the upper storeys.

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The architectural design and landscaping have also received criticism, including The Ipswich Society who are concerned by the lack of integration along the river path as well as lack of landscaping, seating and are generally disappointed by the design for the access ramp to Princes Street.

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Stairs/ramp connecting the river path to Princes Street Bridge

It remains to see if this planning application is approved, it is likely that it will be revised and if so, development of this site would not start until 2019 at the earliest.

Images: Mountford Pigott LLP Architects