Gallery: Plans welcomed for modernisation of Ipswich Buttermarket Shopping Centre. What’s your view of the centre?

1992 - Newly opened Buttermarket, Ipswich

1992 - Newly opened Buttermarket, Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Ipswich’s biggest shopping centre could see a new lease of life with restaurants and leisure facilities joining retail space after being bought for £9.2million.

Real estate firm Capital and Regional has joined together with investment businesses Drum Property Group to buy the Buttermarket Shopping Centre, and have announced plans to modernise the unit.

In the announcement made yesterday, company executives couldn’t rule out the possibility of independent firms and leisure facilities such as a gym or restaurant to go alongside the retail units for the space which they described as a “promising asset” for retail in Ipswich.

Ken Ford, executive director of Capital and Regional which has split the purchase 50/50 with Drum Property Group, said: “There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with Ipswich but there is with the Buttermarket, and there is the opportunity for contemporary retail and leisure units to contribute to the overall commercial environment.

“We want to create the right environment for those contemporary retailers.”

More detailed plans are expected over the coming weeks, with both companies keen to re-establish the Buttermarket as a community space in the town centre.

Hugh Scott-Barrett, chief executive of Capital and Regional, said: “We have a track record of revitalising in-town shopping centres, through improving the retail and leisure offer, the experience for shoppers and forging strong links with local communities.”

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Mr Ford added: “The reality is that half the centre has been by a succession of department stores which have failed, and the centre is therefore struggling to fill that space.

“The leisure and retail hybrid is one way of filling that.”

The news has been welcomed by Conservative Ipswich MP Ben Gummer who believes the investment will be a boost to the town centre. He said: “I am delighted it is going to have investment, it shows that the town centre is beginning to benefit from the economic recovery.

“It’s a boost and I am glad it’s happening, we do need much more investment in the town centre but this is a good amount of money and will make a difference.”

Labour’s Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere added: “I think it is a positive move, and the new purchasers look like they have a proven track record.

“I am hopeful there will be investment into the Buttermarket, and will see new businesses coming to the town.”

The venture will be the eighth shopping centre Capital and Regional will be involved in following successful investment in other UK shopping centres, including Redditch, Camberley, Luton and Maidstone, while Drum Property has been involved in retail spaces for Boots, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.

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