Town centre revamp moves a step closer

OWNERS of businesses in a run-down part of a Suffolk market town have received compulsory purchase orders under the next phase of a regeneration project.

Elliot Furniss

OWNERS of businesses in a run-down part of a Suffolk market town have received compulsory purchase orders under the next phase of a regeneration project.

The scheme to breathe life back into Ipswich Street in Stowmarket will cost between �10million and �15million and create hundreds of jobs for the town.

The strip of land is currently home to a range of businesses including a Wimpy restaurant, an Oxfam shop and a sandwich bar as well as the town's United Reformed Church.


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But the buildings, put up in the 1960s in place of Georgian shops when the road was widened, are to be replaced by a series of units that are aimed at attracting leading national retailers and boosting the town's trade, which has been gradually lost to Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds.

Mid Suffolk District Council regeneration manager Dave Benham said developer ISG Jackson was fully funding the project and he was confident the consultation period, which lasts until September 4, would attract positive feedback.

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He said: “A 2007 retail study showed we need to do something about the town centre and to achieve it we need to compulsory purchase it.

“The orders went out about two weeks ago and the consultation will be for six weeks rather than the standard three because it's holiday time.

“They (the landowners) can object and then it can go to public inquiry.”

Mr Benham said the council was working with the team at the United Reformed Church as well as other businesses in a bid to relocate them into another suitable town centre location.

He said: “It's difficult to negotiate with so many people and there are some emotive issues around the church. In the main, people are of the understanding that it's in the best interests of the town and that's what we're trying to achieve.”

He also said a separate project would run alongside the regeneration scheme to seek heritage lottery funding to improve the stock of the existing buildings in Ipswich Street on the opposite side of the road, many of which have tired-looking exteriors.

Mr Benham added: “This is massive. It's a huge amount of investment going into Stowmarket. We've also got Peacocks opening soon which will probably be employing about 50 people.”

For more details about the plans for the future of Stowmarket, visit the Your Community section of Mid Suffolk District Council's website at www.midsuffolk.gov.uk.

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