Vibrant Ipswich

IPSWICH is fast becoming one of the most vibrant towns in the East of England – thanks to a £300 million cash injection being pumped into its waterfront area.

IPSWICH is fast becoming one of the most vibrant towns in the East of England – thanks to a £300 million cash injection being pumped into its waterfront area.

It is a year since the East Anglian Daily Times revealed the regeneration scheme, and in that time Ipswich has begun to evolve and reshape.

Town chiefs have hailed the project for transforming the Wet Dock from a working industrial area to an upmarket and fashionable part of the town, boasting homes, a hotel and popular bars and restaurants.

Although there are developments and new projects going on all over the town, the cornerstone of the regeneration bid is the £36 million facelift for Cranfields Mill, on the waterfront.

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Overseen by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), and set to be developed by Wharfside Regeneration, the project will see a mixed arts, business and leisure complex created on the 2.5 acre site.

It is hoped that a danceEast studio, film theatre, arts facility, offices and residential units will all be included in the complex.

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Another major project is taking shape in Coprolite and Duke Streets, where developer Redrow Homes is set to build Neptune Marina.

The are will include homes, a restaurant, chandlery, offices and retail outlet.

The homes will not be completed until 2005, but 47 of the 113 apartments have already been reserved.

Elle Roberts, area sales manager for Redrow Eastern, said: "The location is tremendous and can't be bettered and the design of the buildings is amazing. "It has just taken off – everyone that has seen one of the homes has wanted one. Ipswich is an up and coming area. The regeneration has been going for a year now and we are seeing developments going on all over the place.

"The whole area is just right – the way forward is in Ipswich."

James Hehir, chief executive of Ipswich Borough Council, said: "An awful lot has happened – much more than I thought would have by this point. The £250 million we talked about last year may actually be too conservative.

"At least £150 million has already been committed and even more is in the pipeline, possibly up to another £150 million, so in all it could be as much as £300 million.

"We are delighted with it for two reasons – firstly, it is updating and using brownfield sites, and secondly, it's really helping to change the whole image of Ipswich.

"Ipswich is a really vibrant place and we are very proud of it. We are not stopping here though – we're going to keep on going."

Bob Feltwell, chief executive of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, added: "It is still making excellent progress and a lot of good things are happening. Ipswich is changing and getting better every year, and that's been happening for the last ten years.

"The mere fact that we all call it the waterfront now and not the wet dock is evidence of how things are changing."

But Mr Feltwell warned: "All of the traffic problems still need sorting out so that people can get access to and from the area and park when they get there.

"That is still the big concern in the business community. It's all very well developing the sites, but people have got to have good access to the facilities for them to thrive."

Elsewhere in the town, families in north Ipswich are being invited to give their views on a new housing estate that could include a supermarket and a park.

The northern fringe development has been earmarked for land between Westerfield and Henley Roads and could include 1,500 homes, a district shopping centre and a school.

Residents are being asked to give their views on the plans in a series of drop-in consultations being held at locations around the town.

Ipswich borough council has appointed a consultancy firm in a bid to find out what people want from the development and to tailor it to their needs.

Vicki Ingleby from the council, said: "It's a development that sparked a lot of interest when we launched it and we thought we would like to tease out the concerns of the local people.

"We want to make everybody as happy with the development as possible."

Louise Newman, of Shillam+Smith , which is carrying out the consultation, said: "We're going out to talk to people about their views and then give our findings and recommendations to the council at the end of the process."

The consultations are at Asda, Goddard Road, Ipswich on Thursday, May 29 from noon to 12.30pm. Fircroft Road shops, Ipswich on Friday, May 30 from 11am to 2pm. Victoria Nurseries, Westerfield Road, Ipswich on Friday, May 30 from 2.30pm to 5.30pm. Ipswich Cornhill, next to Debenhams, on Saturday, May 31 from 11am to 1pm. Westerfield Village Hall on Saturday, May 31 from 2pm to 4.30pm.

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