Ipswich Central: BID company among winners in the X-Fund High Street Renewal Award

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central - Credit: Archant

IPSWICH has won a share of a £1million national prize fund created to support the most innovative approaches to managing and improving town centres.

A bid by Ipswich Central, the company responsible for delivering the town’s Business Improvement District programme which is funded by a levy on traders, is one of seven bidders chosen to benefit under the X-Fund High Street Renewal Award.

The scheme, launched by the Government last year, was based on recommendations by retail guru Mary Portas who was invited by ministers to offer advice on how to revive town centres.

Ipswich Central has been awarded £168,057 for its “Turning Our Town Around” submission, based on its vision to improve links between the town’s Waterfront regeneration area and is main retail and commercial core.

The entry was supported by Ipswich Borough Council and was submitted through the BID’s Vision group, which includes Ben Gummer MP, Suffolk County Council, University Campus Suffolk, and business leaders.

During a visit to Ipswich, the X-Fund judging panel heard about proposals for an international competition to redesign the Cornhill and the creation of the new Blackfriars and Saints Quarters as links to the Waterfront.

They also saw new hotel schemes under construction and were given demonstrations of the new “AllAboutIpswich” website and app developed by the BID. They were told of plans to extend the ”Celebrate Ipswich” promotion to encourage new visitors.

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Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central, said: “Those who have been rewarded today have been able to demonstrate a clear ambition which combines innovation with proven delivery.

“This win gives us the ideal platform from which we will progress our plans to become ‘East Anglia’s Premier Waterfront Town Centre’. Sure in the knowledge that we have an award-winning proposition, we should all move faster and feel braver about our plans.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said: “Ipswich Central are right to be pushing to link the town centre with the Waterfront and, frankly, without their energy, no one else would be making it happen.

“So I am thrilled that the Government has recognised what they are trying to achieve and am glad that all our lobbying has paid off.

“Now we need to see it happen and I ask all the parties to ensure that they put their shoulders to the wheel and make what we know to be necessary happen – and fast.”

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere, said “This award is a welcome recognition of the ambitious and innovative work being undertaken by Ipswich Central and Ipswich Borough Council to transform Ipswich’s Town Centre. All towns are suffering from the twin challenges of the economy and online retailing. It is the towns who are bold about change which will weather these challenges best.”

The other locations to share in the X-Fund aware are Herne Hill in south London, the Old Northam Road area of Southampton, Altrincham, Market Rasen, Gloucester and Rotherham.