Toys R Us sold to council property firm – what’s next for Ipswich landmark?
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
The former Toys R Us store at the Interchange Retail Park at Copdock Mill has been bought by Ipswich council’s property company – and could soon have a new use.
The building, which closed in April 2018, was bought for a “seven-figure sum” – more than £1m – by Ipswich Borough Assets to provide an income for the borough council.
The chair of Ipswich Borough Assets, Ipswich Labour councillor Colin Kreidewolf, said the company had already been in talks with potential tenants before buying the building and he was confident of finding a occupier in the near future.
He said: “This is a very important site. It is a very well-know landmark for people approaching the town up the A12 and it has very good connections on to the main road network and there is plenty of parking there.
“We (IBA) normally buy properties that already have a tenant to provide us with an income – but we bought an empty building in Europa Way (the former Billington’s depot) and found a very good tenant there bringing in a good income for us, so we are hopeful of doing that again.”
He was not able to say what might happen to the building – but did say it would not be turned into a retailer to threaten the town centre. There were rumours last year that Marks and Spencer were interested in taking it on as a food store which would have threatened its town centre shop.
Those plans ran into difficulty because Tesco, which was the first store to be built on the Copdock Mill site, has a covenant over most of the rest of the retail park preventing any other food retailer opening there in direct competition with it.
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There was also speculation last year that it could become a health and fitness centre serving the growing Pinewood and Sproughton communities – and also offering services to the wider community because of its good transport links.
The park is just outside Ipswich in the Babergh district. Local councillor and Babergh cabinet member for assets and investment David Busby said he was very interested to hear that IBA had bought the site: “I hope they do find a someone to move in. The idea of a health and fitness centre would go down very well here and it looks like a good place for it – we will all follow what happens with interest!”