Bullring designers on target for Ipswich

WORLD renowned architects involved with the Bullring in Birmingham and the Arndale centre in Manchester are penning the designs for Ipswich's £230million Mint Quarter shopping centre.

WORLD renowned architects involved with the Bullring in Birmingham and the Arndale centre in Manchester are penning the designs for Ipswich's £230million Mint Quarter shopping centre.

Chapman Taylor, which has ten offices around the world including bases in Russia, Italy and Spain, has been chosen by developers Shearer Property Group to draft up plans for the ambitious project.

The Mint Quarter scheme, destined for the area between Tacket Street and Carr Street, will comprise a department store, 50 shops and parking for around 900 cars.

It is not yet known what form the centre will take as artist's impressions of the proposed development have yet to be released, however Chapman Taylor has a strong reputation in the industry for breathtaking designs and is no stranger to big projects.

Commissions for the firm in the past have included part of the Arndale shopping centre in Manchester and work on the modern-looking Bullring in Birmingham.

The firm also contributed as interior architects for the £3.7 billion Terminal Five at Heathrow Airport and is acting as consultants on a massive £750million regeneration scheme to revamp Bracknell.

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Guy Shearer, of developers Shearer Property Group, said the architects' design is still being finalised.

He said: “One thing it will not be is one big monolith scheme.

“It will be scheme with a number of open streets and squares.

“It will be of contemporary design and obviously built with quality materials.

“We are looking to bring something very special in the design to Ipswich.”

Paul Clement, head of Ipswich Central, said the appointment shows how keen the developers are to create an impressive centre,” he said.

“I think it shows that the developer is taking the scheme extremely seriously and is obviously wanting to deliver a quality development.

“The important thing is that they land sufficient retail names to make the scheme viable and I'm aware they are working very hard to do so.”

Negotiations are continuing to find tenants for the scheme.

Back in May the Star revealed that Shearer Property Group is keen to sign upmarket department store John Lewis for the development's 40,000 sq ft anchor store.

Shearer Property Group has declined to reveal details of who they are speaking to about the flagship store.

A planning application is yet to be submitted.

Do you think the Mint Quarter would provide a boost for Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The Mint Quarter - the story so far:

n. The idea of a large shopping centre on the Mint Quarter site was first mooted around 20 years ago.

n. In the late 1980s NCP became the owner of almost all of the site bounded by Upper Brook Street, Upper Orwell Street, Carr Street, and Tacket Street as part of the complicated land-swap which saved the Regent Theatre.

n. In 1992 - as the Buttermarket shopping centre was being opened - NCP announced it was proposing to build The Cloisters shopping centre which would include a department store, a new multi-storey car park, other shops, and a market square in a single large shopping centre.

n. This proposal was hit by the recession of the early 1990s, and although the company never withdrew the proposal nothing was done to progress it.

n. By 1999 things had changed and NCP announced a partnership with Helical Retail to develop what was now called the Mint Quarter.

n. Instead of being a single covered shopping centre, this would now be individual shops - anchored by new stores for Argos and Woolworth.

That proposal fell through.

n. Helical Retail withdrew from the partnership, and NCP teamed up with developers Shearer Property Group in 2005.

n. In May this year The Evening Star revealed that upmarket department store John Lewis are in talks about setting up shop in the development's 40,000 sq ft anchor store.

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