100 closed shops are a sorry tale
It seems everywhere you look in Ipswich today, shops stand empty. Features editor TRACEY SPARLING set Star photographers a challenge - to record every closed retail premises in the town centre.
By Tracey Sparling
It seems everywhere you look in Ipswich today, shops stand empty. Features editor TRACEY SPARLING set Star photographers a challenge - to record every closed retail premises in the town centre. The photographs reveal a sad picture of Suffolk's county town.
IPSWICH should be a must-visit town, a mouthwatering delight on the East Anglian shopping scene.
It should be a place where you are tempted in to a wide range of shops to spend your money and nourish the local economy.
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Instead we counted a sad total of 100 shops closed up this week, which led us to launch our We're Backing Ipswich campaign.
The numbers are changing almost daily, and some units may have a tenant planning to re-open, so we counted retail premises which have their doors currently closed to the public.
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The premises we show in today's snapshot are just in the area bordered by St Matthews Street, Crown Street, St Margaret's Street, St Helen's Street, Grimwade Street, Key Street, Tacket Street, St Peter's Street, and Civic Drive.
That's not counting empty retail units on the Waterfront or further afield.
Meanwhile Ipswich Central, the organisation which promotes the town centre says 'Ipswich offers a winning combination of indoor shopping malls, large department stores and independent boutiques. The 'Golden Mile' offers a huge variety of shops within just a short walk.'
A spokesman for Ipswich Central declined to comment this week, but an Ipswich Borough Council spokesman said: "We know there are a number of empty premises in the town centre but there is not one simple reason for this. Many are involved in lease renewals or changes which should be resolved when an announcement is made, expected early next year, on the Mint Quarter.
“Currently, we have 120 retailers who have expressed an interest in coming here but the fact that we are expanding means they have specific space requirements, often for far bigger sites than the empty premises currently on offer. We know the town centre needs improving and that is why we are working with Ipswich Central on the Business Improvement District and talking to major developers about several projects, including the Civic Centre site."
Colin Roberts manager of the Buttermarket Shopping Centre said: “Many towns and cities are experiencing a transition period in retail at the moment. There are lots of winners and lots of losers. We are seeing less record shops and electrical shops which have been hit by the internet and big supermarkets.
“I think Ipswich is faring quite well compared to some. When you look at the locations of most empty shops they are in secondary locations.”
Tower Ramparts manager Mike Sorhaindo declined to comment.
Star reader Terry Platten from Goring Road, Ipswich wrote in to say: “When I first moved to Ipswich in 1979 there were numerous vegetable, corner, hardware, butchers and fish shops most of these handed down through the generations. Now the number remaining can be counted on one hand. The government should be reducing the rates.”
N Do other local towns beat Ipswich for shopping? Has your shop been forced out of business? Write and tell us why, at Star Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email email@example.com .
To see the shops which are currently closed, see the picture gallery.