Ipswich: Tower Ramparts to get a multi-million makeover to become Sailmakers
17:14 24 July 2014
The Tower Ramparts shopping centre is to get a £4million makeover next year – getting a new identity and hopefully some new shops.
Centre built on site of old school
The Tower Ramparts shopping centre opened in November 1986 and was built on the site of the former secondary school that had the same name.
Before it was built, the town’s market had used the site for several years. Even before the centre opened it suffered a major setback – the “anchor store” at the bus station was due to have been House of Fraser, but the company pulled out of the project while construction was under way.
However, before the centre opened it was announced that space would be occupied by a Littlewoods department store – although that would not be ready for several months after the rest of the centre opened.
Tower Ramparts centre was given an update in the mid-1990s, but suffered a major setback in early 2006 when Littlewoods closed for the last time. This meant the largest store unit in the centre remained empty – apart from a few months as a temporary jeans shop – until two floors of it were converted into new Iceland and Poundland stores earlier this year. The shopping centre had been owned by several different management companies since it opened, but was bought by LaSalle Investment Management in 2011. At the time of the purchase the company said it would be looking to invest in the centre – and today’s announcement is the confirmation of a major development of the site.
Its name will change to Sailmakers – reflecting Ipswich’s maritime heritage and the shopping centre’s position at the northern end of the new shopping axis leading to the Waterfront.
And it will have a new look both inside and outside – including the possibility of some retail units having their size changed to offer more flexibility to tenants.
The new look will come a year after major changes at both ends of the centre, with River Island moving into an enlarged shopping unit facing Tavern Street and Poundland and Iceland moving into new units beside the bus station.
Earlier this week it was announced that Boots, which opens into the centre, is also looking at a major upgrade of its store.
Shopping centre owner LaSalle Investment Management is about to formally lodge a planning application to the borough for the changes to the signs at both ends of the centre. If the application is successful, work at the centre should start at the end of January, after the Christmas sales, and should be completed by this time next year.
Gavin Ingram of LaSalle said: “We are undertaking a significant investment in the future of Ipswich with this substantial refurbishment.
“We are aiming to create a new, fresh, vibrant shopping centre, one that will continue to bring new stores into the town, along with jobs.
“With the new name, we wanted to reflect Ipswich’s rich history as a trading port.
“Sail-making was one of the major industries of Ipswich in past years, and helped it to develop from a small port into the busy town of today.
“This new vision is in line with the borough’s broader plans for developing Ipswich as a waterfront town centre, and is reflected in the materials and architectural improvements we are making.”
The plans have been welcomed by Terry Baxter, chairman of Ipswich Central.
He said: “The reinvigoration of the scheme brings millions of pounds of investment to Ipswich’s retail core and will act as a magnet for new retail names.
“I welcome the change of name as this reinforces the Greater Ipswich Partnership’s vision of Ipswich as East Anglia’s Waterfront Town.”
Centre manager Mike Sorhaindo said: “I’m delighted that the centre owners are making such a big commitment to ensure that our facilities are the very best.
“It’s a real investment into Ipswich.”
For mroe reaction to the proposals, see our latest story here.