Empty units are costing the public purse millions

IPSWICH: Hundreds of shops and business units in Ipswich are standing empty – costing the public purse more than �3million in lost revenue.

New figures have revealed there are 720 unoccupied premises in the Ipswich district, meaning the public coffers are missing out on �3.1m in business rates.

The figures – obtained following a Freedom of Information request – show 11 industrial units have been empty for more than half a year. Meanwhile 73 shops and businesses have been vacant for more than three months.

It has prompted criticism of Ipswich Borough Council for not being serious about attracting investment.

Councillor Carole Jones, Labour spokeswoman for economic development, said: “It’s been clear for a number of years that the current administration are not serious about seeing the council as a force for promoting economic development in the town.”

Chris Moody, director of commercial property at Savills’ Ipswich branch, said: “We’re not seeing enough of the big retailers. But they do their demographic research and they know the customer profile they want and if Ipswich does not have that you just get struck off their expansion plans.

“With shops Ipswich is full of a myriad of back streets. Retailers don’t want that profile. Some of the stock is obsolete. Demographics have changed.”

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Councillor Richard Atkins, portfolio holder for economic development, said the council had introduced a number of initiatives, such as jointly-funding the employment of an inward investment officer and offering new businesses low-rent premises for six months.

He added: “Even with the level of empty shops we have got there’s quite a buzz among retailers, such as in the Buttermarket Shopping Centre, which is virtually full.”

n Do you think there are too many empty shops and business units in Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk