Lord Stuart Rose praises Ipswich Cornhill's £3.6m revamp
A former chairman of Marks & Spencer whose comments on a "shabby" town square helped spark a £3.6m revamp has praised its new look.
Lord Stuart Rose said work on Ipswich's Cornhill, with fresh paving, a water feature, new benches and ornamental trees, was a "major improvement".
It was completed last month and paid for by private and public funding.
Ipswich Vision, a partnership project for the town, said the work had given the Cornhill a "wow factor".
Lord Rose, who lives in Suffolk, made his initial remarks about the Cornhill, describing it as a "bit shabby", in 2012.
'Bring life back'
He said at the time it should be a "natural congregation point for events and music" and make people say: "I want to get into Ipswich on a Saturday morning, because it's fun."
Speaking for the first time since the work was completed, he said: "I think it is a major improvement and hope it encourages the borough council to pursue further projects to bring life back to Ipswich town centre."
Terry Hunt, chairman of Ipswich Vision, welcomed the comments.
He said: "After Lord Rose's first visit, all the partners with a stake in Ipswich's future got together to draw up a series of initiatives to make real improvements.
"The Cornhill now has a real wow factor."
Those behind the project said they ensured it included seating areas and Ipswich Vision said the aim was for it be used "for events going forward".
Four stone columns have been installed, which are known as "gateways" and feature details about Ipswich and its heritage.
The Cornhill is currently home to a festive craft fair in the run up to Christmas.
It was paid for by Ipswich Borough Council, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Central.
'Much-needed rejuvenation' but 'grey' and 'too urban'
The new-look Cornhill has been met with mixed reactions.
Rebecca Anderson, 22, from Ipswich, said it looked "very grey" and "a bit too urban".
She said it was "better than it was" but it did not look like £3.6m-worth of work.
Will Goodwin, 22, from Woodbridge, said it was a "much-needed rejuvenation", but there were "possibly better ways to have gone about it".
He said parts were not "particularly easy to push a wheelchair up".
Luke Bird, 22, from Ipswich, said it was "really nice" and he liked the "shape and layout" but it needed "more greenery".
Bradley Dedman, 21, from Ipswich, said it was "positive for Ipswich" and "good money has been invested in the town".
All four said it would be somewhere they would enjoy spending time.