Ipswich: Irish banking crisis worry for town developments

IPSWICH: The troubled Irish economy might seem a distant concern to people in Suffolk – but it is having a major impact on the development of Ipswich.

Irish banks have major stakes in both of the major Waterfront developments that are currently stalled after their developers went into administration – Regatta Quay and The Mill.

And banks from Ireland are also behind the owners of the former sugar beet factory at Sproughton on the edge of the town.

Irish financiers are also backing the proposed SnOasis development at Great Blakenham – although developer Godfrey Spanner insists that the banking crisis has not affected his plans.

Borough councillor with responsibility for economic development, Richard Atkins, accepted that these sites were unlikely to be completed until a lasting solution to the Irish economic crisis was agreed.

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He said: “I know there has been some work finishing off some flats at the Mill, but I don’t expect the heavy work like completing the skeleton at Regatta Quay to get under way until things become clearer in Ireland.

“It is a shame – and I still think the Waterfront has a great future – but we will just have to be patient.”

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There have been signs in the town recently that there is a market for new flats – if the price is right.

One informed observer said: “Some of the prices that had been quoted were simply too high.

“Now that the administrators and their agents are starting to price them more realistically they are finding buyers.”

The Irish government is hoping that some of the “distressed” assets of the nation’s leading banks – which would include developments like those in Ipswich – could be transfered into a new “toxic” bank which would free other banks of much of their debt. The “toxic” bank could then make decisions about the future of its assets which could result in work restarting on developments like those in Ipswich.

n Has the Irish banking crisis affected you? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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