Ipswich people will be able to enjoy the magic of the Christmas lights switch-on later this month as it takes place with the stunning new Cornhill as a backdrop.
The Cornhill regeneration is a project supported by the Ipswich Vision Group and led by Ipswich Borough Council, and its partners the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Central.
It has been constructed by local firm Brooks & Wood under the direction of architects Hall McKnight and has transformed the town centre in time for the hustle and bustle of Christmas. The contractors worked Cornhill ready for the weekend.
In have come a spectacular and complex new paving scheme, a stunning water feature, new benches and ornamental trees.
Finishing off the refurbishment project will be the four stone Gateways, which will be installed later as the project team do not want to interrupt the festive lights switch-on.
Ipswich Vision Group Chair, Terry Hunt, said: “Suffolk’s county town now has a real ‘wow factor’ for shoppers, visitors and residents alike. The new Cornhill is something we can all be proud of and I am confident it will be a real boost to businesses. Now let’s look forward to celebrating an Ipswich Christmas and many events taking place in the heart of our town centre.”
Providing a boost for businesses is a huge part of the project and Terry Baxter, Chair of Ipswich Central, added: “This vibrant heart of our retail quarter, together with an aspirational timetable of events, will help encourage new visitors to Ipswich and to ensure that those already here stay longer, bringing the associated financial benefits with them. The Cornhill improvements are part of a wider strategy that will help our town centre be the very best it can be and shows the strength of working together to achieve that aim.”
The Cornhill will be the focus once again for the big switch-on on Thursday 22nd November and the Council and its partners are planning a series of events to celebrate the new space, including a festive craft fair in December. All the Vision partners want to use the Cornhill for events going forward.
Ipswich will again have a festive tree, bigger and more brightly lit and decorated than last year. The tree has been bought by Ipswich businesses and arranged by Ipswich Central.
The Mayor will be assisted n the lights switch-on event by a number of stars of the Regent Theatre’s Snow White pantomime – although the usual mayhem and madcap behaviour usually requires a cool head and a steady hand. There will be the usual musical prelude to get the large crowd into the festive spirit and shops will be opening later to add to the special Ipswich Christmas atmosphere.
The festive countdown will be followed by a ceremony later in the month or in December when the Mayor will help children bury a time capsule under the Gateways containing a special celebratory copy of the Ipswich Star marking the long history of the town’s main square.
The time capsule will also contain a University of Suffolk prospectus, an Ipswich Town programme and a recording of the 1868 Ipswich New Town Hall Polka performed earlier this year by Ipswich Jazz Festival musicians Chris Ingham and Chris Double.