Business leaders have given their backing to proposals for flats to be built in a shopping centre in Ipswich town centre.

Plans for 26 new flats in Sailmakers shopping centre in Ipswich have been "warmly supported" by Ipswich Central.

These plans were submitted by the owners of the shopping centre, and it would include 14 one-bed flats, six two-bed flats and six studio flats.

Ipswich Borough Council delayed a decision on whether to grant the plans earlier in the month in order to visit the site.

Ipswich Star: Sailmakers Shopping CentreSailmakers Shopping Centre (Image: Newsquest)

These flats would utilise vacant properties in the shopping centre, with four recently opening.

These include Just Potatoes, Bargain Food Warehouse, Big Red Label and Stock King.

They join other shops in the centre including HMV, The Nerd Hut, Boots and Poundland – which was recently planned for closure, but will now remain open.

Recently, an Ed Sheeran mural was unveiled in the centre to commemorate the Suffolk singer's surprise performance outside the Town Hall on the Cornhill in 2022.

Ipswich Star: The mural in SailmakersThe mural in Sailmakers (Image: ALB Group)

The flats in the centre would compliment Ipswich Central's 'Connected Town' initiative, which is to create a place that connects business, culture, sports, faith, arts, education, health and community all within a 15-minute triangle.

MORE: Ipswich Windrush Society asked to leave Sailmakers

Terry Baxter, chair of Ipswich Central, said: "The Connected Town '15-minute city' is a vision that Ipswich Central supports for Ipswich town centre.

"Reshaping places so that everything needed is available within a 15-minute walking distance.

"One really important element of this is the creation of more town centre living space, so news that the owners of Sailmakers shopping centre are looking to develop the top floor for residential use is something that we warmly support.

Ipswich Star: Terry Baxter, Chair of Ipswich CentralTerry Baxter, Chair of Ipswich Central (Image: Ipswich Central)

"Going forward, the key is to ensure that a range of housing types are made available to meet the needs of different individuals and families."

John Cook, Ipswich borough councillor for the Alexandra ward, which includes Sailmakers, added: "Ipswich Borough Council has approved many conversions of the upper floors of former shops to domestic dwellings.

"More people living in our town centre is important to the future of Ipswich.

Ipswich Star: Cllr John CookCllr John Cook (Image: Ipswich Labour Party)

"At first sight, Sailmakers seems an unusual property for the provision of flats, and I support the decision of members of the Planning and Development Committee to defer their decision pending a site inspection."

These plans would follow Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and his idea to relax planning laws to allow commercial buildings to be turned into homes without permission to create more homes.

Once the site visit is complete, Ipswich Borough Council planning committee members will be asked to give a final decision.