Bold vision 'commits to many more people living centrally' in Ipswich
- Credit: Paul Geater
A new vision to improve links between different parts of Ipswich "commits to many more people living centrally and having around them all that they will need to live their lives locally".
The Ipswich Vision Partnership - which includes local councils, the town's MP and business groups - has unveiled bold plans to create a "connected centre", using some of the £25million Towns Fund cash promised at this year's Budget.
The radical plans would see better links created between the town centre, the Waterfront, railway station and parklands, so residents can easily get to all the facilities they may need.
And people living on estates on the edge of Ipswich would also benefit from £3m being allocated to improving neighbourhood shopping areas - meaning they can get groceries and supplies more easily, without having to travel far from home.
The guiding principle is the concept of a "15-minute city" pioneered by American planning expert Jane Jacobs in the 1960s.
Its central idea is that people should be able to live within a 15-minute walk of all the services they need on a daily basis.
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It is something that has been gaining popularity in recent years, as the planet deals with the climate change crisis. It is also being used to help revive Paris after the Covid pandemic.
Ipswich Vision Board chairman Terry Hunt said the new proposals showed how much the town centre is changing after Covid.
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"This last year has emphasised that the town could not just carry on relying on retail, but the last year have emphasised how urgent it is to make these kind of changes," he said.
The Town Deal funding for regenerating unused buildings would be very important in creating new uses for existing buildings, ensuring people have important services nearby.
However, Mr Hunt added: "Over the last year more people have been spending more time working at home and have really come to rely on their local shopping centres - they really do need some attention."
The Vision Board also wants to attract others to the town centre - extending its reach to communities like Woodbridge, Hadleigh and Shotley.
Ipswich Central, which represents businesses in the heart of the town, is part of the Vision Partnership.
Chairman Terry Baxter said: “This is a bold plan which recognises that in the new, post-Covid world, our town centre will need to rely less upon retail and develop a new purpose as a place to live and visit.
"This new strategy for Ipswich commits to many more people living centrally and having around them all that they will need to live their lives locally.
"It is exceptionally ambitious and demonstrates that, once again, we are ahead of the game.
"Not only have all partners signed up to the strategy, but we also have £25m from the government’s Town Fund to help kick-start the revival.”
Professor Dave Muller, chairman of the All About Ipswich destination management organisation, added: “The leisure, entertainment and hospitality sectors have been hard hit by the pandemic.
"But, as businesses in and around the town start to reopen, they will recognise that this plan will help to define Ipswich as an accessible, convenient and connected place to visit and stay.”
More discussions are due to take place on the proposals over the next few weeks.
The public is due to be given a chance to comment on the proposals later in the spring.