September 1 2014 Latest news:
Monday, May 12, 2014
The owners of Tower Ramparts in Ipswich are drawing up plans for a multi-million pound revamp of the shopping centre after the arrival of Poundland and Iceland over the last month.
Property giants LaSalle bought the centre two years ago and are talking to officials at the borough about a major internal redesign of the building to attract new tenants and put it at the centre of the town’s retail heart.
No one from the owners was able to comment on the proposals, but we have learned that the plans are well advanced following major developments over the last year.
The former Littlewoods store, which had been largely empty since the start of 2006, has now been converted into two major new stores.
And at the other end of the centre the new River Island store which opened just before Christmas has been a huge success.
These developments have prompted the centre owners to look at updating the rest of Tower Ramparts and detailed plans are now being discussed with borough officials.
They would need planning permission from the borough council – but this is not thought likely to be a major hurdle.
Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere was aware of the proposals to update the centre, but had not seen the details.
He said: “It is good news that the owners (of Tower Ramparts) have confidence in the town – and especially the town centre.”
Centre manager Mike Sorhaindo said he was unable to say anything about the future of Tower Ramparts. However signs have recently appeared around the centre saying: “Tower Ramparts is changing.”
Paul Clement from Ipswich Central said the recent developments had been very welcome for the whole town centre.
“Now that Poundland and Iceland have opened with long leases that end of the centre is now much busier and more attractive.
“And the new River Island store has been hugely-successful in attracting new shoppers since it opened at Christmas. The new owners do seem to be investing to put it back at the heart of the town’s retail core,” he said.
While Tower Ramparts is looking ahead to a brighter future, question marks remain over the town’s Buttermarket Centre after it emerged that the new owner of the former Odeon at Major’s Corner has links to another chain of cinemas.
Vue cinemas had planned to create a new nine-screen venue in the Buttermarket, and work had been due to start earlier this year.
However nothing has yet happened, amid speculation that managers at Vue are reviewing whether to go ahead with the proposed Ipswich development.
The cinema company has said it still wants to come to Ipswich, but no formal deal has yet been concluded – months after work had originally been due to start.