Ipswich will become the Venice of northern Europe after planners agreed to build a waterway linking the popular Waterfront to the town centre.
The so-called Golden Mile, which links the marina to the town will be dug up and filled with water diverted from the River Orwell.
This will create a beautiful new riverside environment more commonly associated with cultural idylls like Venice.
Ipswich’s new waterside paradise will allow customers to visit shops by Gondola and float their shopping home.
“Now people really will be ale to take a punt at William Hill and moor their barge at River Island,” said councillor Lorraine Fisher, 34, excitedly.
“And Sailmakers will be UK’s premier waterside shopping centre.”
However, residents of Ipswich are already asking about the cost of boat moorings in the town and whether pay-and-display will apply to inflatable dinghies.
Resident Chris Allen said: “I bet they will still charge to moor up your boat after 6pm, and on Sundays. But at least we will no longer see all the discarded chewing gum.”
Work is all already underway on redeveloping the Cornhill, and Ipswich Borough Council say the fountains there will work wonderfully alongside the new canal.
A spokesman said: “We will add a new area which will become a staging post for boats picking up passengers for trips from the town to the waterfront.”
It is believed the route being dug up would be the top of Princes Street and then down Queen Street, over the crossroads down St Nicholas Street, and then along part of College Street before diverting into the marina close to The Mill development.
Planners acknowledge this will play havoc with traffic, but they urge people to be patient.
The spokesman added: “We can build bridges over the canal eventually – it seems to work perfectly well in Amsterdam.
“But we want to be better than Amsterdam, we want to be known as the Venice of the North.”
Funding for the work, which starts this summer, will come from central government. It is thought shops and restaurants along the route will experience a boom in custom once shoppers realise they can float right up to the front door.
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