Green light for the £20m Winerack development on Ipswich Waterfront
PUBLISHED: 08:03 21 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:37 21 April 2017
The towering Winerack - the skeletal apartment building on Ipswich Waterfront halted by the economic recession - is to finally be completed with £20m from the public sector.
The news is a long-awaited boost for the area and will provide homes for hundreds of people overlooking the Orwell.
The tower block became known as The Winerack, and was symbolic of the town’s financial problems and the banking crisis.
The Homes and Communities Agency, part of central government, is set to invest £15 million in the long-delayed project, along with £5million from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Construction is expected to begin later this year once legal formalities have been completed – and should be well underway by the start of the new year.
Ipswich Wharf Developments (IWDL) led by local developers John Howard and Jeremy Scowsill have been advised on the financing by Zenzic Partners.
Work on site could start as soon as September and it is likely to take two years.
Regatta Quay – known locally as the Winerack – has been in a semi-constructed condition since 2009.
It is a key development in the Ipswich Vision project, which brings together local partners to work towards the regeneration of the town centre.
The completed project will create 149 homes and 5,000 square feet of commercial space. It will also support 56 new jobs.
Nick Walkley, HCA chief executive, said: “This is a great example of how government-backed investment can get cranes and diggers back on stalled building projects and start creating new homes and jobs.
“We’re not just investing in a building here, we’re investing in the future of the town and along with our ambitious local partners we’re confident that it will kick-start the regeneration of the hugely important waterfront.”
LEP chairman Mark Pendlington said: “For too long the Winerack has been symbolic for the wrong reasons. Now it can rightly become an icon both of our ambitions for Ipswich and of everything which can be achieved when we work together.
“We are very much looking forward to seeing work start on the building. It will mark one more step forward in the transformation of this part of the town and unlock new investment and development opportunities.”
Mr Howard said: “Both my partner and I are Ipswich born and bred and this has been more than just a business project for us.
“With the help of the HCA, the LEP, Ipswich Borough Council, Zenzic and our very supportive local MP, Ben Gummer, we are at long last looking forward to completing the conversion of the Winerack into fabulous homes for local people and beyond.”
Mr Gummer added: “People in Ipswich have been waiting a long time for this moment – promised for ages and now at last it has come.
“We have confirmation that the Winerack project is now fully-funded and ready to go. We should see builders on site soon.
“It has taken six years to get to this point, from when in 2011 I brought NAMA, the Irish bank who owned the building, over from Dublin to Ipswich in an effort to get things moving. Down to tense phone calls we have had over the last few weeks, this has taken an enormous amount of effort.
‘I am very grateful to the HCA, New Anglia LEP, Ipswich Borough Council and most of all to John Howard, for making this project happen. We all now want to see the project delivered so that we can remove this blight from the town’s skyline and our town show its ambition in full again.”
Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said: “The unfinished Winerack has been an all too visible blot on the Ipswich landscape for too long. As long as it exists it will put off developers who might invest in our town.
“This is a very significant investment by New Anglia LEP and the Homes and Communities Agency and one we should all welcome. It is yet another example of the huge improvements we are now seeing in Ipswich as a result of all the partners in Ipswich Vision working together.”
Nadine Buckland, managing director at Zenzic Ltd, corporate finance advisor to the developer, said: “Together with the HCA and New Anglia LEP, we have crafted a creative capital solution that will allow IWDL to execute its business plan while preserving appropriate structural protections for the majority capital partners.
“We look forward to the delivery of a landmark project for the Ipswich Marina with significant regenerative effects for the area.”