A vision for the future for Ipswich

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central - Credit: Archant

Town Topics with Ipswich Central

One of the most frequently used words in the context of Ipswich town centre this year has been ‘Vision’.

Whilst the new Vision Board work through the 21 priorities to reinvigorate the central area, there is a continuing need to fully explain to everyone why it is important and what it will mean. So, within my word allocation for this column, let me try and do just that.

The most important factor about the Vision is that, firstly, the town centre has one.

Secondly, though, the organisations that will deliver it – Ipswich Central, Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk County Council, the Local Enterprise Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce, University Campus Suffolk, and our MP – are all signed up to it.

The Vision is deliberately ambitious. For example, it proposes over 2,000 new homes in the town centre, many of which will be houses rather than apartments.

More residents will mean more jobs and so it sets out proposals to accelerate new office development, particularly along Princes Street.

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More employees will lead to the demand for new retail and leisure development and, alongside the redevelopment of Buttermarket and Sailmakers currently underway, we are identifying the best area for new shop units to be built – we are currently focussing in on Upper Brook Street.

All of this needs to be aligned with major improvement works, such as the pedestrianisation of Queen Street and Cornhill Square development, and bringing forward developments on sites such as the ruined warehouses at the end of the waterfront overlooking Stoke Bridge.

The return on investment is enormous.

We asked Aecom to assess the economic impact. They reported that the new homes alone would add £7.9 million a year of extra spend; office development in Princes Street would add 800 jobs; new retail names would catapult Ipswich up the retail rankings; and more visitors would bring with them almost £50 million of extra spend.

The prize is huge, but it is also insignificant when compared with the cost of not doing it.

So, we have a new, strong and enthusiastic coalition of partners, all of whom are intent on delivering the most ambitious and cohesive plan that this town centre has ever had and most other locations could only dream of.

That is why it has caught the attention of central Government, and why investors and businesses alike are starting to look upon Ipswich as a place to invest.

However, grand plans count for nothing, it’s delivery that will result in the transformation on offer.

No pressure!

Paul Clement, Ipswich Central

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