Ipswich: New owner of the wine rack vows to complete luxury flats development - and expresses hope for foot bridge to link the Waterfront to the town centre

Developer John Howard has bought the 'wine rack ' building on the Ipswich Waterfront. Developer John Howard has bought the 'wine rack ' building on the Ipswich Waterfront.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014
1:37 PM

An ambitious developer who has purchased a prominent unfinished high-rise concrete tower - known as “the wine rack” on Ipswich Waterfront has outlined his vision for the future of the eyesore.

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Developer John Howard has bought the 'wine rack ' building on the Ipswich Waterfront.Developer John Howard has bought the 'wine rack ' building on the Ipswich Waterfront.

John Howard sees lack of car parking and the physical isolation of the waterfront, which is separated from the town centre by a traffic-choked one-way system, as the only remaining barriers to its ongoing redevelopment and is calling for plans for a pedestrian bridge to the town to be made a reality.

Mr Howard, and long-time business partner Jeremy Scowsill, are behind Marina Developments (Ipswich) Ltd, which bought Block A of the Regatta Quay complex in June and he is confident it will be completed and turned into luxury flats.

Nicknamed “the wine rack”, the looming concrete skeleton came to symbolise the crippling effects of the Credit Crunch on the town’s economy and a very visual reminder of its years in the doldrums post 2008 after the company behind it collapsed.

But Mr Howard, who lives in Claydon, near Ipswich, and has been involved in development schemes all around the country, says his company’s plans will lift the already impressive Waterfront area further and help kickstart other projects for as yet undeveloped parts of the waterfront.

Developer John Howard has bought the 'wine rack ' building on the Ipswich Waterfront.Developer John Howard has bought the 'wine rack ' building on the Ipswich Waterfront.

“It will help all the other prices in the area. It’s good news for Ipswich,” he said.

But while the ‘wine rack’ building comes with its own 260 space parking area, he believes the waterfront as a whole needs more parking.

“I think it needs a multi-storey car park,” he said. “It desperately needs a pedestrian bridge across the roads. It needs something to link it to the town.”

He revealed he had been talking to “one or two” car parking operators about whether they would be interested in creating a profitable. 600-space multi-storey car park along the Waterfront and had received a “positive” initial response from a couple of them.

Developer John Howard has bought the 'wine rack ' building on the Ipswich Waterfront.Developer John Howard has bought the 'wine rack ' building on the Ipswich Waterfront.

“I think like all these things, it needs the borough council, it needs the county council and private developers to get together and work together,” he said. “We have got 260 car spaces in the core of our building, so we are fine, but I just think if you want to get retail down here we have got to get it full and get it buzzing.”

He added: “I think everyone wants to see the Waterfront finished and what has been now I think we can all be very proud of.”

He is hoping that the first phase of building work on the 149-luxury flat complex can begin around March or April of next year. This phase, which would include the completion of the outside shell of the building, and the creation of 30 flats at the top, along with parking and lifts, is envisaged to take around a year. Potential buyers are already showing an interest in the hi-tech, ultra modern apartments the firm is planning to build.

The next two phases, developing the lower flats, is expected to take around 18 months, which would mean that in theory, the building could be complete as early as the latter part of 2017.

A local developer has been earmarked, but contracts still have to be signed, said Mr Howard, and detailed proposals are currently with borough planners.

“I’m confident there’ll be enough buyers for them. My confidence comes from a number of areas. The economy has picked up. It’s a unique development in a great setting, an hour and a bit away from London by train,” he said. “Looking over the marina, it’s got an awful lot going for it.”

20 comments

  • Good news, if he keeps his word. However, I am sceptical of the longer term success, it needs more than a footbridge to attract people to the docks area. You need things to attract them there as well as access, and that's beside the point that many developers are now saying that buyers are more looking for houses now rather than flats. The major part of The Mill is still unoccupied, The area doesn't need people who buy as an investment it needs people who buy to live.

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    Esco Fiasco

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

  • I will only believe the so called wine rack will be completed when I see it,we have been promised so much over the last 10 years but very little has been achieved.

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    Ipswich and proud

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

  • I will only believe the so called wine rack will be completed when I see it,we have been promised so much over the last 10 years but very little has been achieved.

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    Ipswich and proud

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

  • Any plans to complete a development or bring derelict land into use must be welcomed and for a local company to be involved suggests they plan to do what they say. Clearly this is a big undertaking and part of it's future success will be based on it's integration within the the area of other schemes. There are still too many sites in Ipswich awaiting attention and a start has to happen somewhere. Not sure if Ipswich needs lots of new retail space at present but something is needed to lift the existing retail areas to something that attracts trade.

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    amsterdam81

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

  • Ipswich Entrepreneur has hit the nail on the head. The developer doesn't want a footbridge out of any altruistic feelings for improving the lot of the townspeople, he wants someone else to fund the improvement to the value of his investment. And IBC may well be right when they say people don't like using bridges. Pedestrians everywhere can hardly be bothered to walk 20 yards further to use a crossing, but would prefer to j-walk across roads to save themselves some effort. Let's face facts - the docks are too far from the town centre to ever be integrated - they are two distinct and separate entities.

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    Alice

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

  • The completion of the 'wine rack' is welcome news. The bridge connecting to the town is a good idea, too. However, it could be enhanced with a linking foot and cycle bridge over the Orwell for the new block of 380 flats on the South side at Stoke Quay. The bridge could span from the bottom of Gower street to the foot of the dance theatre tower. So not only would the North side residents get a quick and safe passage to the town, but the South side would have a shortcut as well.

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    Steven Whalley

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

  • Drain the wet dock. Sink a multilevel subterranean carpark in it. Refill with water. Simple. Problem solved.

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    SuffolkBoy1956

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

  • A footbridge as a sweetener! Anywhere else in the UK and they would dig a tunnel for the road and not allow any development while a site the size of the Island Site in the middle of the dock remains off limits and derelict. This piecemeal approach to dock development is a sad embarrassment.

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    MoreGreenSpace4Ipswich

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

  • We need retail space , not more flats ! Flats Flats Flats ! Why so many ? Anyone over the age of 20 doesn't want to live in a flat , these will hit the rental market and we know what that will mean .

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    Poppys Dad

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

  • Whatever comes of this it must be an improvement on what is there now. However there is a large car park under the student flats in Duke Street and this has never been used. Why I now not. It is time to put right all that is wrong with the so called waterfront especially the nightmare traffic problems.

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    Barnacle

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

  • Let's be positive and give this proposal a chance. Surely it can only be an improvement on the current eyesore situation. There are too many people with no vision who are only too keen to be negative and that is not good for Ipswich

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    elbowfan

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

  • Yes, a footbridge linking the town centre with the waterfront. Great idea, ask anyone who's been to Basildon where they came up with the concept of "streets in the sky" 50 years ago and it was a loony idea back then. By the way, did anybody notice that the report of a stabbing on Stoke Bridge referred to it as "Bridge Street"? Maybe they didn't want the Wonderful Waterfront to be associated with the possibility of a nearby crime. Just sayin'.

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    PC Plod

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

  • Well, hate to lower the tone. The concept of a pedestrian bridge isn't so all Ipswich Residents can enjoy the waterfront... its because when you are selling flats the fact that two busy A-roads that are noisy, dangerous and a source of high pollution, in between your prospective home and the town centre (where the shops are) can be a little off-putting to some. This additional link for pedestrians will encourage businesses to the unoccupied retail units and subsequently increase the prices of the overpriced homes somewhat more. ***** Ipswich Waterfront is approximately 20% university, 75% residential flats and 5% leisure. What really is there for anyone other than students living in the flats? Not that students can even afford them.

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    Ipswich Entrepreneur

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

  • Well if he gets the same answer as I did when I pointed out a few years back that instead of yet another set of lights near Fore Street it required a well designed footbridge, the reply came back ' people don't like using bridges' so good luck with Ips BC who have their heads well and truly stuck in the sand...

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    rocknroll59

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

  • At last...someone with vision! I'm glad he is keen on sorting the car parking- it's been my view that this is one of the biggest barriers to developing the area- people spending lost of money dont want to have to park their car in some rubbishy old improvised gravel car park. They want shelter, security and a guarenteed space.

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    Sentinel Red

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

  • Agree wholeheartedly with these proposals from John Howard. However, I thought the borough council have been looking into improving the access to the waterfront for the past few years? Have they not come up with any confirmed plans of their own to date?

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    jimmybog

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

  • At last somebody with brains looks at the Dock area. It is rather telling that a man from the private sector who has to please people to sell flats comes up with the point that the Dock needs foot bridges to connect it to the town and MORE CHEAP PARKING. Instead of council officials who's only answer seems to be more lights or we will close one of the roads around the dock and make it one lane each way etc etc. The first thing that should happen is the middle island of the wet dock whould be bought. The boat builders allowed to remain but all the other mostly haulage businesses down there offered new accomadation at Nacton Rd Ind Estate and the whole island have houses with no roads built, maybe with a large sopping parade. A true green space with a big multisorey carpark both for visitors and residents at the Stoke Bridge end of the docks. Then you can use the lifts in that structure to have a walk way from say the 4th floor of the car park to a structure in St Nicolas St with a lift to provide deisabled access to the Docks. Repave the entrance to the dock which at the moment with any rain gets flooded. Finally remove both pedestrian lights on on the one way system there. Remove the pedestrian lights across Stoke Bridge by using the same access to have a bridge across to Trinity Park and linking the old B&Q site eventially to the Dock area. Then you can make access to the dock etc completely without having to touch or cross the oneway system at all. Use good quality products, not steel girders so the bridges are architectural statements in themselves like the millennium bridge over the Thames. Then we will have to do the same at the other end of the docks and remove those stupid zebra crossings.

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    The Ginge

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

  • great ideas, good luck to him, the footbridge idea would make such a difference as the traffic wouldn't be constantly held up.

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    C Smith

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

  • Well, he's local, which is a plus, so may be more familiar with the failings of the council than others. He's going in with his eyes open, has ideas, so good luck son!

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    Mike Derruki

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

  • Before certain other contributors come on board can I get the ball rolling with a positive comment. I believe Mr Howard has the right approach to this development and hopefully he will get all the help and cooperation that he and this project deserves. As for the multi story car park and the foot bridge, brilliant.

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    jack rabbit

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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