Wharfside were successful in a national competition held by the East of England Development Agency in 2002 to find a development partner for the regeneration of the former Cranfield Mill site on Ipswich docks. The site was a strategic element of the regeneration of the former town centre dock area which, over the previous decade, had moved down river.
Wharfside, with its retained architect, John Lyall, considered how the opportunity could offer both new housing, A1 and A3 space, as well as securing a community benefit to stand its bid apart from the traditional mixed use developers. Wharfside negotiated with an organisation that sponsored and ran Dance in the east of England who wished to centralise their efforts into a major state of the art dance centre to rehouse its regional arts council agency and it was agreed that 25,000 sq ft footprint facility would be incorporated within the scheme – www.danceeast.co.uk.
Wharfside sourced equity finance from a South African investor to secure the opportunity allowing a contract to be signed with the East of England Development Agency in April 2003 which was conditional on Wharfside securing a detailed planning permission.
In July 2004 planning was secured for
- 330 private residential flats
- 52 affordable units
- 81-bedroom hotel
- 25,000 sq ft (footprint) dance centre
- 35,000 sq. ft. supporting A1/A3 space.
- A multi storey car park for 270 spaces
To enable works to commence on the £70 million scheme it was necessary for Wharfside to pre-sell 50% of the residential units which it achieved by December 2006. It was then possible to pre-sell the development to Irish investor supported by Allied Irish Bank thus refinancing the equity and Barclays which was achieved in July 2007. The construction programme had been tendered and won by Laing O’Rourke who commenced on site immediately refinancing was completed. The construction was managed by Wharfside Properties under contract with Allied Irish Bank and was completed in December 2009 on time and to budget.