THE developers of a new commercial hub have hailed the opening of a John Lewis Partnership complex as “an important milestone” in the regeneration of the Nacton area of Ipswich.

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The flagship new John Lewis at home and Waitrose stores at Ipswich’s Futura Park opened their doors for business yesterday.

AquiGen, the developer of Futura Park, says the opening of the much-anticipated anchor stores paves the way for the success of the rest of the 44-acre retail and business park, where all but one of the remaining retail units are now pre-let to tenants.

AquiGen chairman Tony Chambers said: “The opening of John Lewis and Waitrose is an important milestone in the regeneration of this part of Ipswich. The inclusion of high quality retail in the scheme has unlocked the value to allow the whole site to be remediated and redeveloped. We are delighted that John Lewis and Waitrose were involved in Futura Park from its early plans, and attracted by these top names, other retailers have followed suit to sign up as tenants. By establishing a popular retail destination, other businesses will be drawn to the park and this will in turn create more jobs and a boost for the local economy.”

Nigel Keen, director of development at Waitrose, said: “We’re delighted to have opened and are looking forward to seeing our customer’s reactions to the first co-joined Waitrose and John Lewis at home. The opening of our stores marks only the first chapter in Futura Park’s exciting development.”

Futura Park’s first completed phase is the 26,500 sq ft Waitrose located immediately next to the 43,000 sq ft John Lewis at home, the first of this new combined format in the country. The two stores share an entrance enabling shoppers to benefit from convenient access to product ranges in both shops.

The John Lewis at home shop focuses on furniture, furnishing accessories, electrical and home technology, while Waitrose provides its latest range of goods and services, including a wide selection of quality fresh foods, wines, service counters and its online shopping service, Waitrose.com, as well as a customer café. The Waitrose and John Lewis at home complex also has its own 407 space car park and new roads have been opened to service the park.

The second phase of retail space, which recently gained planning approval, involves 66,000 sq ft of mainly ‘bulky goods’ retail space for which five out of six of the tenants are now confirmed. Construction on the phase two buildings is due to start in February and the stores are expected to open in July. Outline planning permission has also been granted for 25 acres of employment land to accommodate up to 600,000 square feet of new offices, warehousing and industrial space, as well as open spaces and infrastructure. When complete, Futura Park is expected to create up to 1,500 new jobs.

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