Stowmarket set for massive facelift

A MARKET town is to undergo a £10 million transformation, as a church, shops and homes face compulsory purchase and demolition to make way for a new retail area.

John Howard

A MARKET town is to undergo a £10 million transformation, as a church, shops and homes face compulsory purchase and demolition to make way for a new retail area.

The move by Mid Suffolk District Council would see about 13 businesses, the old post office and sorting office, and the United Reformed Church taken down by a developer on the west side of Ipswich Street in Stowmarket.

A new retail area would rise from the rubble, featuring both large and independent shops, restaurants, cafes and new apartments.


You may also want to watch:


The move - expected to cost between £5m and £10m and stretch along 140 metres of the street - is almost certain to trigger a public inquiry, but council officers nevertheless expect work to be able to start on site by 2011 and to be completed within two years.

The initiative comes as Stowmarket is already benefiting from work starting on the multi-million pound B1115 relief road and millions of pounds work to improve the notorious A14 Haughley bends.

Most Read

Dave Benham, regeneration and community services officer with the authority, said: “The administration sees Stowmarket as a priority and this is the way forward.

“We should have a bustling market town and not stop at 5pm when everyone goes home. We want a café culture.

“This is positive for Stowmarket. The town has become dormant and the centre is not fit for purpose. The only way the town will become fit for purpose will be if we undertake a fundamental redevelopment.”

Tim Passmore, Conservative leader of the authority, said: “This completely underlines this administration's commitment to regenerating Stowmarket.

“In a difficult economic time we are pressing ahead with this, it has to be sorted out. We want to get on with it and are delighted with the reaction from businesses and the public.

“We want a town that we can all be proud for the next 100 years. We need very good quality homes but we need economic development.

“We have never done this as a council before, as far as I am aware. The reason for going for compulsory purchase is so that we can move it forward, and do not have to delay.

The council will now seek the power to issue CPOs should anyone not wish to sell and appoint a developer who will fund the scheme. The details of what the new buildings will look like are still being finalised, but are expected to be Georgian in style.

A spokesman for the United Reformed Church said: “Members of Stowmarket URC are shocked to hear a compulsory purchase order has been slapped on their premises.

“Although they have been aware of plans to regenerate part of Ipswich Street through the consultation process employed by the council, the current plans have come as a major surprise to them.

“The members are convinced that the Church has a significant and special role to play in the Stowmarket community, and this involves maintaining a strong presence on a prime site at the heart of the town centre.

“They are looking forward to working constructively with the authority for a satisfactory outcome for the town and the Church.”

Keith Elliott, branch manager of East Anglian Mortgages based directly opposite the redevelopment, said: “This is a good idea, the population of Stowmarket is growing with new housing estates.

“But at the moment it is still a poor relation and I think this would be excellent.”

A public meeting, called by the district council, is being held on Thursday at the United Reformed Church in the town centre from 6pm to discuss the plans.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter