Ipswich: Futura Park’s ‘road to success’

Official opening of Crane Boulevard at Futura Park, Ipswich, with developers AquiGen and Crane. L-R

Official opening of Crane Boulevard at Futura Park, Ipswich, with developers AquiGen and Crane. L-R Paul Richardson, Paul Cansdale,Ian Kemp (CRANE) - Credit: Archant

The developers behind a major new retail and business park in Ipswich are “hopeful” of having other businesses on stream soon, after officially opening a new road to the site today.

Official opening of Crane Boulevard at Futura Park, Ipswich, with developers AquiGen and Crane. L-R

Official opening of Crane Boulevard at Futura Park, Ipswich, with developers AquiGen and Crane. L-R Paul Richardson, Paul Cansdale,Ian Kemp (CRANE) - Credit: Archant

There was a sense of nostalgia today as former worker at the site, Ian Kemp, cut the ribbon to officially open Crane Boulevard, at Futura Park, Nacton.

Official opening of Crane Boulevard at Futura Park, Ipswich, with developers AquiGen and Crane. L-R

Official opening of Crane Boulevard at Futura Park, Ipswich, with developers AquiGen and Crane. L-R Paul Richardson, Paul Cansdale,Ian Kemp (CRANE) - Credit: Archant

The road was named after the previous occupants, engineering firm Crane, which moved to the site in the 1920s. It made munitions during World War 2, but its heyday was the 1950s, when the workforce peaked at around 3,500 employees. It moved away in 2008, but still retains a base at nearby Ransomes Europark.

Official opening of Crane Boulevard at Futura Park, Ipswich, with developers AquiGen and Crane. L-R

Official opening of Crane Boulevard at Futura Park, Ipswich, with developers AquiGen and Crane. L-R Paul Richardson, Paul Cansdale,Ian Kemp (CRANE) - Credit: Archant

Mr Kemp, a Crane employee of 31 years, who started his working life at the site as an apprentice pattern maker, said: “It was sad when the site closed, I must admit, but it’s nice to come back.”

Futura Park at Nacton is taking shape quickly following the opening of a flagship John Lewis at home and Waitrose complex in November.

Construction work on phase 2, which consists of six more retail units, is due to start on April 15. The stores - DFS, Paul Simon, Furniture Village, Oak Furniture Land, Costa Coffee and Carphone Warehouse - are due to ready in time for the August Bank Holiday.

Paul Richardson, general manager of Crane Limited (Building Services & Utilities) appreciated the name chosen, and the transformation from the “barren landscape” left after Crane departed.

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“It keeps the history - that’s a great touch,” he said.

“When we left it was as the economic downturn started,” he recalled. “Obviously when Waitrose decided to build the facility that was great news.”

At the ceremony were representatives from Stace, the employer’s agent, J F Hunt, the contractors, and Ipswich Borough Council.

Developers AquiGen’s next challenge is to find non-retail tenants for the remainder of the 44 acre site.

The opening of the new road, off Nacton Road, which is now scheduled to be open to traffic from next Friday (April 5) following a technical delay, will provide access to the phase 2 building site, which is being built by Ipswich construction firm Barnes Construction.

It also opens up the rest of the site to potential tenants, with a short lead-in time of months, rather than years. Millions of pounds have been spent cleaning up the old foundry site ready for new development.

Developers AquiGen said the speed with which the entire project is completed will depend on demand.

“Remediation is nearing completion well ahead of schedule,” said developer Paul Hirst, managing director of Aquila Developments Ltd, who added they were “very hopeful” about the prospects for the site. Aquila is one half of developer partnership AquiGen, the owners of the site.

“The key thing is that occupiers want to make a decision and get their new buildings quickly. They don’t want to have a building in two years’ time. We’ll deliver a building within six months of planning,”

He added: “We’ll bring forward development as fast as we can. It’s in our interests to do so, but it’s also in the interests of the area.”

AquiGen managing director Paul Isaacs said no tenants had been signed up yet for phase 3 but it was very early days.

“We have just started an advertising campaign now so it’s early days. We have a number of enquiries and we have just got to progress those,” he said.

“It’s going to be driven by demand.” basically.”

Outline planning permission has been granted for 25 acres of employment land on the 44 acre site, able to accommodate up to 600,000 square feet of new offices, warehousing and industrial space, as well as open spaces and infrastructure. When complete, Futura Park is expected to create up to 1,500 new jobs.