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Ipswich: Radical proposals aim to ‘turn around town’

PUBLISHED: 10:11 20 September 2013 | UPDATED: 12:51 20 September 2013

St Peter's Street Market in Ipswich in full flow.

St Peter's Street Market in Ipswich in full flow.

Archant

A radical rethink is required on the potential use of several key development sites in Ipswich to improve links between the town centre and the Waterfront, according to a new report.

Ipswich Central, the body responsible for the town’s Business Improvement District (BID) project, aims to help retailers and other town centre businesses build on the success over the past decade of the Waterfront’s regeneration by encouraging the flow of pedestrians between the two areas.

A new document, entitled Focusing Future Investment, identifies a series of potential development projects to improve north-south links.

It was unveiled last night at a meeting of Ipswich Central members which was held at St Peter’s Church, close to the Waterfront, and themed Turning Our Town Around.

Ipswich Central’s new chairman, Terry Baxter, said the concept was in contrast with the traditional east-west axis of the main retail area, known in the past as the Golden Mile.

The new concept was also endorsed at the meeting by William Coe, who Mr Baxter succeeded as chairman earlier this week, who said both Ipswich Borough and Suffolk County Council needed to be more willing to “take risks” and to allow Ipswich Central the freedom it needed to achieve its objectives.

The radical new document calls for alternative options to be explored for a number of sites where major retail developments have previously been proposed.

These include the area around the Tacket Street and Cox Lane car parks, where successive plans for a major regional shopping centre most recently the Mint Quarter proposal have failed to come to fruition over the part 30 years.

The report says that, with such a scheme likely to prove even harder to fund in future, a smaller scale redevelopment should be considered, possibly including a small number of shops facing an open-air mall linking Upper Brook Street and Carr Street, combined with a multi-storey car park and some residential development.

It also suggests that both the riverside Grafton Way site, where Tesco has dropped plans for a major store, and the former Civic Centre site off Westgate Street, which a recent report produced for Ipswich Borough Council identified as a priority for retail development, could be more appropriate for residential schemes.

The Ipswich Central report welcomes the potential conversion of the vacant anchor store within the Buttermarket Shopping Centre into a cinema, together with supporting cafés and restaurants, which it says could help attract Waterfront visitors into the town centre.

It identifies the Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre, where the anchor store is also empty, as in need of refurbishment in order to enhance its role as a north-south link between the town centre and the Electric House bus station, which is itself being refurbished, and says regeneration in the area should also include proposals to rebuild the Crown Street multi-storey car park.

Three key north-south corridors are identified in the report:

• St Peter’s Street/St Nicholas Street, which it says has already established a strong identity but requires further improvement at the Waterfront end.

• The Fore Street area, now rebranded as Blackfriars, which is seen as having potential to emulate the “Saints”.

• Lower Brook Street, where The Link project proposes a mixed use development include a new base of media company Archant.

The report adds that the proposed reconfiguration of the Cornhill, the five leading “visions” for which were also outlined at last night’s meeting, also has the potential to improve north-south pedestrian flows along both Lloyds Avenue and Queen Street.

Other suggestions include the redevelopment of the former Odeon cinema site at Majors Corner to expand the arts/cultural offer in the area and providing a northern destination for pedestrian flows from the Waterfront and the college/university area.

There are also suggestions to construct a modern office development on Princes Street between the railway station and the Willis building.

Last, but not least, the report urges schemes to be brought forward to complete the two major stalled developments on the Waterfront, including retail uses complementary to the town centre plus leisure, residential and parking facilites.

Comments on all the proposals for the revamp of Ipswich are invited via the Ipswich Central website at www.ipswichcentral.com

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8 comments

  • Hahaha IBC - do you have any brain cells?!? Obviously something needs to be done and quite obvious that this has been the case for many years! Parking should be free in the town centre - so people actually visit (not that we have any decent shops anymore) and you need to get over the 'waterfront' link!!! Sort it out - so fed up!

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    DantheBish

    Saturday, September 21, 2013

  • All sounds quite promising. IBC and SCC need to stop tinkering at the edges and think big. Ipswich is a big town and needs a thriving centre linked to an attractive and equally thriving Waterfront. All we seem to get are charity shops, betting establishments and drop-in centres. Hardly edge-of-the-seat stuff to bring tourists and day visitors flocking in! More vision, more intelligent planning, and more bold development to make Ipswich once again a town we can be proud of.

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    Dobbie1973

    Friday, September 20, 2013

  • At last the blindingly obvious has now been written down in a report. Now lets hope these proposals are financed and acted upon to improve the town centre.. One other thing, who is it exactly that in the past has called Ipswich's main retail area "The Golden Mile"? I have heard it called many things, but never this.

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    england1770

    Friday, September 20, 2013

  • I'm familiar with the "Golden Mile" reference. I think it was possibly first coined when the entire length was made traffic free and block paved. Could go back before that though.. No much golden about these days...

    Report this comment

    mmm

    Friday, September 20, 2013

  • Get rid of the traffic lights as i am out of this sinking ship

    Report this comment

    an idea

    Sunday, September 22, 2013

  • Waterfront, Waterfront, Waterfront! That is all our council think about. Yes, it's all very nice for a walk on a sunny evening but, apart from a couple of nice restaurants, there is nothing there. The main talking point amongst visitors is the huge "wine rack." The council should be putting all its efforts into reducing the rates in the town centre thereby filling the existing empty shops. What is the point of developing Cox Lane etc. into shopping areas when so many existing shops are either empty or turned into charity shops? Also, I would hardly think that any developer would plough money into Ipswich, bearing in mind the state of the town. I have spent all of my 64 yrs in Ipswich and it really hurts to watch it falling into such decline.

    Report this comment

    Brian Ball

    Friday, September 20, 2013

  • Hurrah! Now get on with it. It all makes perfect sense - if the old way hasn't worked for 30 years, try something new. This is different, realistic and full of common sense - for a change!

    Report this comment

    Scott Brock

    Friday, September 20, 2013

  • @ Brian Ball - The waterfront is Ipswich's unique and main attraction. You wouldn't have a pop at Norwich for going on about's it's castle would you? There's always something happening there, art galleries, events, markets, food and drink, river cruises, theatre. And shall we clear this up once and for all (as most people don't seem to get it) local councils don't set business rates, CENTRAL GOVERNMENT do, Ipswich council just collect them. And again the shops are empty not because retailers don't want to come to town but because they're the wrong type of units, too old, too small and not enough window space. If you go looking for a house you don't want to buy a bungalow. As for developers not wanting to invest in Ipswich? Did you miss the millions that have been spent in the past few years? It may not have answered all the problems but just think what it'd be like if that money hadn't been invested!

    Report this comment

    Scott Brock

    Friday, September 20, 2013

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

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