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Green light for the £20m Winerack development on Ipswich Waterfront

PUBLISHED: 08:03 21 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:37 21 April 2017

A CGI image of the proposed development of the 'winerack'. 

Image: Daniel Fisher.

A CGI image of the proposed development of the 'winerack'. Image: Daniel Fisher.

Archant

The towering Winerack – the skeletal apartment building on Ipswich Waterfront halted by the economic recession – is to finally be completed with £20m from the public sector.

A CGI image of the Winerack at night.  Picture: DANIEL FISHERA CGI image of the Winerack at night. Picture: DANIEL FISHER

The news is a long-awaited boost for the area and will provide homes for hundreds of people overlooking the Orwell.

The tower block became known as The Winerack, and was symbolic of the town’s financial problems and the banking crisis.

The Homes and Communities Agency, part of central government, is set to invest £15 million in the long-delayed project, along with £5million from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Construction is expected to begin later this year once legal formalities have been completed – and should be well underway by the start of the new year.

New Winerack logo is releasedNew Winerack logo is released

Ipswich Wharf Developments (IWDL) led by local developers John Howard and Jeremy Scowsill have been advised on the financing by Zenzic Partners.

• The Winerack - a symbol of how the recession hit Ipswich eight years ago.

Work on site could start as soon as September and it is likely to take two years.

Regatta Quay – known locally as the Winerack – has been in a semi-constructed condition since 2009.

Developer John Howard with the 'Winerack ' building on the Ipswich Waterfront.Developer John Howard with the 'Winerack ' building on the Ipswich Waterfront.

It is a key development in the Ipswich Vision project, which brings together local partners to work towards the regeneration of the town centre.

The completed project will create 149 homes and 5,000 square feet of commercial space. It will also support 56 new jobs.

Nick Walkley, HCA chief executive, said: “This is a great example of how government-backed investment can get cranes and diggers back on stalled building projects and start creating new homes and jobs.

“We’re not just investing in a building here, we’re investing in the future of the town and along with our ambitious local partners we’re confident that it will kick-start the regeneration of the hugely important waterfront.”

LEP chairman Mark Pendlington said: “For too long the Winerack has been symbolic for the wrong reasons. Now it can rightly become an icon both of our ambitions for Ipswich and of everything which can be achieved when we work together.

“We are very much looking forward to seeing work start on the building. It will mark one more step forward in the transformation of this part of the town and unlock new investment and development opportunities.”

Mr Howard said: “Both my partner and I are Ipswich born and bred and this has been more than just a business project for us.

“With the help of the HCA, the LEP, Ipswich Borough Council, Zenzic and our very supportive local MP, Ben Gummer, we are at long last looking forward to completing the conversion of the Winerack into fabulous homes for local people and beyond.”

Mr Gummer added: “People in Ipswich have been waiting a long time for this moment – promised for ages and now at last it has come.

“We have confirmation that the Winerack project is now fully-funded and ready to go. We should see builders on site soon.

“It has taken six years to get to this point, from when in 2011 I brought NAMA, the Irish bank who owned the building, over from Dublin to Ipswich in an effort to get things moving. Down to tense phone calls we have had over the last few weeks, this has taken an enormous amount of effort.

‘I am very grateful to the HCA, New Anglia LEP, Ipswich Borough Council and most of all to John Howard, for making this project happen. We all now want to see the project delivered so that we can remove this blight from the town’s skyline and our town show its ambition in full again.”

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said: “The unfinished Winerack has been an all too visible blot on the Ipswich landscape for too long. As long as it exists it will put off developers who might invest in our town.

“This is a very significant investment by New Anglia LEP and the Homes and Communities Agency and one we should all welcome. It is yet another example of the huge improvements we are now seeing in Ipswich as a result of all the partners in Ipswich Vision working together.”

Nadine Buckland, managing director at Zenzic Ltd, corporate finance advisor to the developer, said: “Together with the HCA and New Anglia LEP, we have crafted a creative capital solution that will allow IWDL to execute its business plan while preserving appropriate structural protections for the majority capital partners.

“We look forward to the delivery of a landmark project for the Ipswich Marina with significant regenerative effects for the area.”

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10 comments

  • A TV news item inferred that the £20m had to be paid back with interest. If that is correct, then it sounds as if a bank should be funding this project, rather than the HCA.

    Report this comment

    rustic

    Saturday, April 22, 2017

  • The only bit of good news is that it will be finished. Other than that the area will still look less than inviting for me and what is the chance of the commercial units being occupied given there has always been many empty ones since the new build of the last 15 years or so. Suffolk1, are you Ben Gummer?

    Report this comment

    chrisd0407

    Saturday, April 22, 2017

  • Public funds being used so I take it these flats are going to be council and available for those who need affordable rents i.e under £400ish a month. Oh no silly me more like double that.

    Report this comment

    mr_tall

    Friday, April 21, 2017

  • Why has this project been given the financial support from the public whilst many other buildings in the town lay empty ? Is it because he is a Tory donor ? Just asking .Will the sugar beet get a £20 million handout next, I doubt it as the taxpayer is already paying for that too. The upper Orwell bridges , the wine rack and the sugar beet all being paid for by the tax payer , not bad considering we were told huge private sector funds were going to re build the town ,seems like we're paying for it as the private sector creams the profits .

    Report this comment

    Macke

    Friday, April 21, 2017

  • It's good news for the town and the timing of this announcement clearly has nothing to do with the coming election!

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Friday, April 21, 2017

  • Great news for Ipswich and the Waterfront. The area is a wonderful asset for our historic town.

    Report this comment

    Suffolk1

    Friday, April 21, 2017

  • Lesson learned here, leave something long enough and you can get millions of pounds for free from the tax payer. How many more empty flats can the luxurious Ipswich wet dock support?

    Report this comment

    OldBoy

    Friday, April 21, 2017

  • Nor is there any mention about how much John Howard will make out of this, still with a donation of £20m from the taxpayer to the Winerack Charity I'm pretty sure he will be doing this out of his love of the area and not to make a profit.

    Report this comment

    Mike Hunt

    Friday, April 21, 2017

  • Great news for making use of this eyesore. Sadly,no mention of how many apartments will be available for the homeless, the elderly, the low earners and "affordable housing" for young couples.

    Report this comment

    chantry

    Friday, April 21, 2017

  • Great news. Good investment from the HCA and the LEP into Ipswich, turning out to be a great couple of years for the town. A really significant amount of investment has gone in and really look forward to seeing this project completed. Best of luck to all involved

    Report this comment

    IpswichBristol

    Friday, April 21, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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