Ipswich: Ipswich Central win top national award for their vision for the future of the town centre

Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter.

Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter. - Credit: Archant

Ambitious proposals to turn central Ipswich around have won national recognition – and are encouraging supporters to promote the scheme as the only show in town.

Ipswich Central’s vision for the future of the town centre – “Turning our Town Around” - won the top award at the national conference of Business Improvement Districts (BID) in London.

At present the town’s main shopping area – from Westgate Street to Carr Street – runs west to east, however Ipswich Central wants to shift this to run north/south from Tower Ramparts to the Waterfront.

The award marks the work to create this new vision and promote Ipswich as a major regional cultural and economic centre.

The vision has received widespread backing from business, and was produced in consultation with the borough council.

However some in the business community were dismayed when the council backed an alternative retail vision for the town drawn up by surveyors DTZ which proposed concentrating new retail growth on the Westgate area (the old Civic Centre site) some way from what would be the new main shopping area.

The new award comes just weeks after the “Turning our Town Around” proposal won support from the Government’s X-Fund – the only BID scheme to attract such funding. Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter said: “The latest national recognition adds further strength to the awarding of the ‘X-Fund’ by central government.

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“Those who attended the presentation of the plan see that it is the most credible proposal to focus efforts to re-energise Ipswich Town centre.

“The borough subsequently went on to back a different proposition which at first look could be deemed confusing to the wider community.

“However I believe that there are more similarities than differences in the two initiatives and we are ready to work with any partner to kick-start Ipswich’s recovery.

“This must never be about individuals or groups vying for recognition, it must instead be about working collectively, irrespective of egos or political dogma, to the ultimate benefit of a better Ipswich.”

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere said he backed moves to bring the town centre and Waterfront together – but this would have to be a long-term project.

He said: “I don’t think there is difference between any of the partners about the development of links with the Waterfront.

“However we have had an independent report that shows in the short to medium term the only realistic opportunity to build substantial new retail units is at the Westgate site.”

Mr Ellesmere said it was not likely that there would ever be large-scale retail at the Waterfront, that area of town was better suited to leisure businesses, cafes, bars and restaurants with improved access to retailers in the town centre.

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