Ipswich Central is hoping to use long-awaited Town Deal money to try to bring the good times back to the town centre - with a little help from Cardinal Wolsey.

But more than four years after money was first promised to the town by the government, Ipswich is still waiting to see any major benefit from this boost.

Now Ipswich Central chair Terry Baxter is hoping that it will finally get £2.3million funding to create the 'Digital Ipswich' concept with digital signs and a new All About Ipswich website.

Ipswich Star: Ipswich Central Chair Terry Baxter.Ipswich Central Chair Terry Baxter. (Image: Ipswich Central)

In a New Year report to members and other town centre users he also talks of plans to create a new 'Cardinal Route' through the town centre from the top of Lloyds Avenue, through the Cornhill and Giles Circus to the Saints and down to St Peter's Church.

The Cardinal Route would be a legacy to continue the Wolsey 550 project which started last spring and continues until the early autumn to mark the anniversary of the birth of Ipswich's greatest son.

One of the aims of the new strategy is to create a new 'Heritage Zone' focussed on The Saints and the area around St Peter's Church and Stoke Bridge.

It also wants to spend more on making shoppers and visitors feel safe in the town centre by bringing in more rangers and supporting more PCSOs to give a visible police presence in the area.

Mr Baxter accepted it was a challenge to attract people to the town centre, especially as more retail had moved online or to out-of-town locations.

But he felt programmes like the Wolsey 550 project had engaged people and could be used to attract more back to the town centre.

Ipswich Star: The Wolsey 550 Project has brought people into the town.The Wolsey 550 Project has brought people into the town. (Image: Ipswich Central)

He said: "We've had very positive feedback about Wolsey 550 and we want to use that as a legacy to help drive the town forward."

The borough council is looking at improving Lloyds Avenue - possibly alongside a future redevelopment of the former Debenhams building - and it has also applied for a compulsory purchase order on the former Grimwades store on the Cornhill.

Mr Baxter said: "There is a lot that needs to be done in the town centre, but Ipswich isn't unique in that - there are problems like this in similar towns and cities across the country."

The speed with which Town Deal funding has come through has been a frustration for many in Ipswich.

Ipswich Star: The Town Deal was first unveiled in 2019 but so far Ipswich has seen limited benefits from it.The Town Deal was first unveiled in 2019 but so far Ipswich has seen limited benefits from it. (Image: Archant)

Former Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick first said Ipswich was eligible for £25m from this when he visited the town in October 2019 - before the last general election.

Despite the money being applied for and promised, only a fraction has been spent so far - mainly on educational projects.

Arras Square, which Mr Jenrick was shown by Tom Hunt who would be elected MP two months later, is still waiting to be rebuilt and the paving is more uneven than ever!

And inflation has taken it's toll. Today's £25m is worth 20% less than the value in 2010 according to the Bank of England.

Mr Baxter admitted: "The Town Deal funding has got rather bogged down. There is some coming through but I don't think anyone expected it to take this long when it was first mentioned all those years ago."

Over the next year Ipswich Central is also planning to help run a number of events in the town centre in a bid to attract more visitors to the town.

And it is planning an ongoing campaign to 'Back the Blues' to encourage businesses to show their support for the football club in their efforts to win promotion to the Premier League for the first time since 2000.