From concrete jungle to hi-tech haven - how Ipswich eyesore, the ‘Winerack’, could be transformed with £5m government cash

The visit of minister Brandon Lewis, with Ben Gummer MP, to meet John Howard owner of 'the Winerack'

The visit of minister Brandon Lewis, with Ben Gummer MP, to meet John Howard owner of 'the Winerack'. Left to right, Ben Gummer, Vicky Ford MEP, Brandon Lewis, John Howard. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Sensational plans to transform one of Ipswich’s most notorious eyesores into hi-tech flats fit for the next century could take a leap forward after the developer revealed he has bid for £5million of government cash to make the project a reality.

The visit of minister Brandon Lewis, with Ben Gummer MP, to meet John Howard owner of 'the Winerack'

The visit of minister Brandon Lewis, with Ben Gummer MP, to meet John Howard owner of 'the Winerack'. Left to right, Ben Gummer, Vicky Ford MEP, Brandon Lewis, John Howard. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Work to complete Regatta Quay on the Waterfront, dubbed the Winerack due to its open and uncompleted frontage, is due to begin this year.

Developer John Howard said he hopes a loan from the Builders Finance Fund could help fulfil his vision of 120 apartments with hand recognition locks and app-controlled fixtures and fittings.

Housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis, whose department administers the £525m fund, which is intended to support smaller housing schemes, came to Ipswich last week after an invitation from town MP Ben Gummer.

Mr Lewis, who also met Mr Howard and heard about further regeneration plans, said he couldn’t personally approve the loan, but added that he was aware the application had been lodged.


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He added: “This is the first time I have been here. It is good to put my eyes on it and see it first hand. Ben Gummer asked me to come and look. I can see why he is so passionate about the importance of this.”

Mr Howard said his vision is to create the latest in hi-tech living in the completed apartments.

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He said: “There are 120 apartments in the block and they will all have great views down the river. We will incorporate the latest technology, Things like hand recognition rather than door keys. Smart technology.”

He added: “There is already a lot going on here. It gives everyone else confidence in Ipswich and investing.”

Mr Gummer said the project was another piece in a jigsaw that included the continued development of the university and the £2m pledged by the Government towards the Waterfront bridge project, which would open up the island site as an enterprise park, in conjunction with the university

He added: “It is good to see things moving on. The government can provide the basics but it can only happen if investors get involved – people like John – investors who come forward and take the risk.”

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