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Ipswich: Does the wine rack have a future?

PUBLISHED: 14:12 03 April 2013 | UPDATED: 14:12 03 April 2013

View of Regatta Quay from Stoke Bridge, Ipswich

View of Regatta Quay from Stoke Bridge, Ipswich

Archant

It’s the landmark that no one wants – yet the town’s monument to the recession seems set to stick out like a sore thumb for some time yet!

Wine rack timeline

2006: Demolition work takes place at two of the largest Waterfront plants – Pauls Maltings and Cranfields Mill – which are to become Regatta Quay and The Mill respectively.

2007: Work starts on both sites, the first of two towers at Regatta Quay is “topped out”.

2009: Work on the Regatta Quay halts with the skeleton of the second tower left incomplete.

Jan 2010: Regatta Quay developer City Living goes into administration after talks with its banker Anglo Irish. Grant Thornton appointed administrators.

May 2010: The Mill developer Wharfside Regeneration is put into administration by its bank Allied Irish. Baker Tilly appointed administrators.

Late 2010: Irish banking crisis. Toxic elements of major banks – including those to the two Ipswich developments – transferred to new body the National Asset Management Authority (NAMA).

November 2011: Officials from NAMA visit Ipswich Waterfront. As they now control both sites they decide to put them under a single administrator, Baker Tilly. They also reveal a masterplan will be drawn up during the spring of 2012 aimed at finding a way to restart work.

April 2013: While some flats that were nearing completion when the developers went into administration have been completed, the undeveloped parts of both sites remain.

The “wine rack” was supposed to be the skeleton for the second tower of the Regatta Quay development on the Waterfront – but has remained incomplete since work stopped on the project in late 2009.

The developers of the project, City Living, went into administration in early 2010 – owing millions to the Anglo Irish bank.

Its neighbouring development, The Mill, also went into administration – and despite the two developments being brought together under a single administrator in November 2011 there have been few major changes.

Yesterday Ipswich MP Ben Gummer met administrator Nigel Millar from Bury St Edmunds-based Baker Tilly – but while there has been some progress, he warned there was no immediate prospect of a major transformation.

Mr Gummer said: “There has been some success in completing and selling some of the flats that were underway and that is important to improve the cash flow – but this is a very complex administration.”

The “wine rack” itself is a sound structure at no risk of coming down, but there is no money available to complete the work at present.

When asked: “If you were a betting man, what would you put your money on being on the site of the wine rack in five years’ time,” Mr Gummer was silent for several seconds.

Eventually he said: “I think there is a 75% chance that it will be fitted out. But that is the most difficult element of the whole development.

“Take out the wine rack and there’s a 90% chance that the rest of the development will be completed – but that does all depend on an upturn in the economy.”

In the meantime, the “wine rack” remains a landmark from many parts of the town – it is clearly visible from Wherstead Road, Old Stoke, Westerfield Road, and across the town centre.

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