Shops under the hammer... Ipswich’s £7m town centre sell-off
08:00 02 February 2016
One of the largest landowners in Ipswich town centre has put many of its shop units up for sale for about £7m.
Car park operator NCP owns many shop units in Upper Brook Street, Carr Street and Upper Orwell Street in a property portfolio built up in the 1990s to become the Cloisters, or later Mint Quarter, development.
Now the buildings have been put up for sale by auction at the end of the month.
The largest single lot is the former Woolworths store, now occupied by Poundland, on Carr Street. It has a guide price of £4.25m.
A further four units are up for sale in two separate lots in Carr Street – the Millets and Looks unit is valued at £900,000 and the BetFred/barbers’ shop is valued at £450,000.
Four units on Upper Brook Street, occupied by Greggs, Palace Amusements, Can Can, and one vacancy, have a guide price of £700,000.
The portfolio was built up in the hope that the whole area, including the Tacket Street and Cox Lane car parks, could be redeveloped as a major new retail centre in the heart of Ipswich.
However this failed to come forward – and now owner NCP has decided to pull out of the Ipswich properties in a bid to give someone else the chance to redevelop them.
A spokeswoman for the company said: “We can confirm that these retail freeholds are being offered for sale at the end of February and is simply part of a rationalisation of non-car parking assets.
“NCP remains committed to Ipswich with our numerous car parks throughout the town.”
The news of the sale has been given a cautious welcome by Ipswich MP Ben Gummer and by Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement.
Both hoped that the move could hasten redevelopment proposals for the area around the two surface car parks – but there are concerns that if they are all bought by separate owners it could be more difficult to achieve a comprehensive redevelopment.
Mr Gummer said: “I did know about the proposed sale. I have been urging NCP to come up with proposals to develop its estate or to sell them to someone who does want to do something with them.
“The important thing is that it would be best to see them sold to the same developer to come up with a plan for the future. That area is very important to the future of the town.”
Mr Clement said he the sale could pave the way to some significant developments for that part of the town centre – but emphasised the hope of the Ipswich Vision partners that much of the Cox Lane/Upper Orwell Street area should be residential-lead.
He said: “By splitting up the lots, it should speed up the sale of these properties.”