Waterfront projects face lengthy delays

A PLANNING campaigner has warned that it could take up to 15 years for the “true potential” of the Ipswich Waterfront to be realised.

Mike Cook, who is the planning spokesman for the Ipswich Society, fears it could be more than a decade before the dock developments are finally completed.

At it stands, four major projects in the Waterfront area have ground to a halt because of the recession.

As well as The Mill and Regatta Quay developments which are half-completed, with the companies behind them in administration, there is no sign of work starting on the St Peter’s Port scheme or on a proposed major development near University Campus Suffolk.

Mr Cook said: “I think it could well be 10 or 15 years before we see all those sites developed – at the moment there is no sign of any movement.

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“To be fair it is not just a phenomenon we are seeing in Ipswich; it is happening at inland waterfront developments all over the country.”

And Mr Cook was keen to recognise the improvements already achieved on the Waterfront. “If you look at what it was like 12 years ago and what it is like now with restaurants, caf�s, and bars it is much better. It is a real plus for the town,” he said. “But it will take many years for the true potential to be realised.”

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Mr Cook said that Ipswich had a long history of development taking place in fits and starts. “During the Georgian period Ipswich was in something of a recession, but it bounced back,” he added.

Guy Jenkinson from estate agents Bidwells said he shared the concern about the development of the Waterfront, but was hopeful things would not take so long to bounce back.

He said: “I think it could be five years before we see things getting back to where they were before the recession hit.

“The value of property slumped dramatically in 2007. The value then was about �250 to �300 per square foot and you need to get back to somewhere near that before things really start getting back on track.

“To get back to those figures from today’s position you need to see prices rise about 8% year on year for five years – that is what the market will be hoping for.”

Mr Jenkinson was involved with selling the first three major projects on the Waterfront and hoped the market would pick up when the recovery set in.

He said: “It will take time, but there is still a lot of potential here.”

Richard Atkins, the Ipswich borough councillor with responsibility for economic development, accepts it will take time for the Waterfront to reach its potential.

He said: “To some extent I have to curb my natural impatience.

“I would love to see everything happen at once, but you have to be realistic and accept these things do take time.

“The Waterfront is a great asset for the town and things will happen there eventually.”

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