When will £7m development of hotel, offices and car park be built in Ipswich?
Major proposals which could include a hotel, multi-storey car park and offices in a key Ipswich street have moved a step closer - after two firms were given orders to move out before Christmas.
Aspire Cars and Avanti Autos in Princes Street have been told to shut up shop by December 12, so the site can be prepared for development.
It is not clear yet what will take their place, however, it was revealed earlier this year that a hotel group was interested in the next-door Drum and Monkey pub site.
Speculation mounted that budget hotel chain Travelodge could be moving in, after they unveiled plans to announce a new hotel near the town centre and railway station - though the company is yet to confirm or deny this. There was also talk of potentially building a restaurant there.
Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) leader David Ellesmere said there were hopes that an office block could be built on the garages site, but that negotiations were unlikely to begin until they are empty.
Once the garages close, work is expected to begin on demolishing them in early 2020.
MORE: Could Travelodge open a new hotel on Ipswich's Drum and Monkey site?
An IBC spokesman said: "We gave the two companies (Aspire Cars and Avanti Autos) notice earlier this year so we can prepare our site in Princes Street for development.
"The exact nature of that development has not been decided but plans will be progressed in the normal way."
The proposals are part of the £7million transformation of the Princes Street business corridor.
Last week, plans for a new 700-space multi-storey car park in Portman Road - also part of the revamp - gathered pace, with architects and engineers agreed.
'They kept me waiting'
Mario Lavergata, who has run Avanti Autos for 14 years, said his firm is now moving to the Boss Hall Road industrial estate.
But the 50-year-old claims when initial speculation grew about a Travelodge potentially being built on the Drum and Monkey site, he approached the council to ask what was happening - and if he would have to move.
Mr Lavergata says the council played down the reports, only to return a few months later and serve a six month notice on the business.
"I'm not against the development - I understand why we are being moved," he said.
"But I wish they had given us more notice. It's been a tight time frame and although we've now found somewhere out of town, they kept me waiting and I feel that's wrong.
He added: "Around the time the newspaper report came out about Travelodge we had someone round asking if we wanted to renew the lease, so for them to then serve notice was a bit of a shock."