David Ellesmere

Ipswich: Borough plots growth of economy

Monday, January 28, 2013
7.00 AM

The town’s economy has coped relatively well since the financial crash in 2007 – but needs to grow substantially over the next decade and a half.

The conclusion is the clear message from the borough’s new economic development strategy which is set to be adopted at its next full meeting on Wednesday.

The strategy runs until 2026 – and will run alongside the Local Development Framework and the Town Centre Masterplan to provide a vision of where the town should be heading as the economy emerges from recession.

It seeks to create conditions which can create up to 18,000 new jobs and 10,500 new homes in the Ipswich Policy Area – which is larger than the borough’s boundaries.

Among the challenges faced by the town are the relatively high proportion of workers employed in the public sector – 32.3% which is higher than the regional (21%) or national (22%) figures.

This could also be a factor in the relatively low number of self-employed people in Ipswich – just over 10% compared with just under 15% across East Anglia.

The borough is confident that existing strong businesses in the town like financial services, the public sector, and freight management will continue to thrive, there are four sectors that could provide growth in the future:

Education – as UCS and Suffolk New College continue to develop.

Tourism, Hospitality and Culture – especially around the Waterfront and with the possible creation of a cultural hub centred on Ipswich Museum and the Art School.

Energy – working with Sizewell C and new offshore wind farms.

Information Technology and Creative work – linking in with UCS and hi-tech firms based around Adastral Park in Martlesham.

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said it was vital to produce a strategy for the town.

He said: “We cannot say how every business should develop, but it is important to put forward a vision for the development of the town – and to show what our strengths are.

“Things like the energy sector, with the North Sea Array and Sizewell are going to be important – and the links we have with London and other parts of the country are vital.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer was not so impressed by the strategy. He said: “This is pretty unambitious and mediocre stuff.

“The one major infrastructure project that the council could influence - a new Wet Dock Crossing - has been given short shrift.

“The Borough has to be aware of what it is capable of doing, and that is not running the economy of the town. It should focus on what it can achieve, such as reducing business rates for hard-hit businesses which in Fore Street it has refused to do.”

Can the borough boost the local economy? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk