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Ipswich: Town praised for the way it is ‘fighting to re-invent itself’ as shopping destination

19:10 30 November 2012

Ipswich has been prasied for fighting to reinvent itself as shopping destination and somewhere you can soak up the atmosphere

Ipswich has been prasied for fighting to reinvent itself as shopping destination and somewhere you can soak up the atmosphere

Archant

IPSWICH town centre has been spotlighted in a new report being published by the British Retail Consortium.

The report highlights the way the town is fighting to re-invent itself as a destination both for shoppers and those who want to enjoy its atmosphere.

And it looks at proposals to switch its axis – linking the historic town centre with the Waterfront area.

The report comes just two months after Sir Stuart Rose gave a blunt assessment of the town centre at the Beacon Town conference at Ipswich Corn Exchange.

He described parts of the town centre as depressing – and urged the councils to develop the Cornhill with street cafes and other entertainments rather than having it dominated by the town’s market.

The BRC worked with Ipswich Central, the Business Improvement District (BID) company which promotes the heart of the town, to produce the report which is part of its annual “state of the high street” publication.

It particularly focuses on the regeneration of the Waterfront.

It says Ipswich Waterfront had gone into decline over the later decades of the 20th century with a number of dilapidated industrial buildings blighting the landscape.

The historic location, an industrial port which dates back to 1842, needed to exploit its unique surroundings to bring people back to the area.

It adds that the Waterfront has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past decade with significant public and private sector investment.

Educational and leisure facilities combine with new business and residential accommodation. This has led to economic growth throughout the wider town.

In 2011, Ipswich Central, in conjunction with other partners, created a Vision to better reconnect the town centre with the now thriving Waterfront area.

Ipswich council is working with the BID and other partners to now promote the town both regionally and nationally as “East Anglia’s Waterfront Town Centre.”

As a result of which the report says that the Waterfront is now rapidly delivering its full potential to visitors, businesses and residents.

Business turnover has increased, new businesses have emerged, and visitor numbers are up, including to the annual Maritime Festival which was visited by 60,000 people in August 2012.

The outcome is a unique sense of place and a new identity for Suffolk’s County town.

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement said the town’s involvement in the BRC report showed how its attempts to re-invent itself were attracting national attention.

He added: “Times are tough in town centres across the country, but Ipswich is certainly holding its own – I think there is much more on offer here than there was last Christmas.”

The reports come after former Marks and Spencer chairman and chief executive Sir Stuart – who lives near the town – told the Beacon Conference about his concerns.

He said of the heart of town: “It is the most depressing place I have ever seen! Standing in the town centre with the empty shops it is a barren wasteland.

And he warned: “The Waterfront is fantastic but there is a problem with linking it to the town centre, you need to link up the different parts of the town.”

The Travel Ipswich programme which is redesigning the roads in and around Ipswich is designed to improve links between the town centre, the Waterfront, and the railway station – there is currently work on Princes Street to make it more attractive for pedestrians walking between the two areas.

Is Ipswich town centre improving? Write to Letters to the Editor, East Anglian Daily Times, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eadtletters@eadt.co.uk

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3 comments

  • Self praise is no praise at all Mr Clement. It may be more palatable to read reports like this, but you may be better off reading the comments on the Evening Star website over the past few years, and that would only be the ones the Evening Star moderator allows through presumably due to the paper's backing of the "I Love Ipswich" campaign.

    Report this comment

    england1770

    Saturday, December 1, 2012

  • "It particularly focuses on the regeneration of the Waterfront." Doesn't everything nowadays? The town has gone to the dogs I'm afraid. Nonsense travel schemes like "Ipswich Transport Project" will only hasten its final demise by driving out everyone except pedestrians and cyclists... the rest of us will just shop online or drive to NorwichLakesideBluewater. The Waterfront has sucked all investment from the estates, leaving them high and dry in terms of local shopping arcades, community locations or indeed services. Ipswich Central, and its Chief Executive has failed, and no amount of nonsense reporting from the BRC will change that.

    Report this comment

    Fat Lady Sings

    Monday, December 3, 2012

  • As i see it, access and facilities for disabled people are seriously lacking and need attention!

    Report this comment

    Bunty

    Saturday, December 1, 2012

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