Ipswich: Sailmakers announcement is a great boost for the town centre

Paul Clement - chief executive of Ipswich Central

Paul Clement - chief executive of Ipswich Central - Credit: Archant

Town Topics with Ipswich Central

Artist's impression of Sailmakers - the new name for Tower Ramparts.

Artist's impression of Sailmakers - the new name for Tower Ramparts. - Credit: Archant

The recent announcement of the multi-million pound refurbishment of the Tower Ramparts shopping centre is welcome news.

It will include new entrances, new lighting, new shopfronts, new internal designs and layouts and, perhaps most interesting, a new name – Sailmakers. The capital ‘S’ will become the logo for Ipswich’s newest shopping destination.

For those of you who don’t know, I was (as a very young lad!) once the centre manager of the scheme.

That was something like 25 years ago and it was my bosses that last refurbished the centre, installing the large arch across Tavern Street that still sits there today.

In shopping terms, 25 years is more than a lifetime.

Yet, for that long, owner after owner has battled with the problems of having the large department store at the back vacant (many will remember Littlewoods!) and empty shops within.

Most Read

Finally, though, Ipswich found LaSalle and, in them, we have an owner with the expertise and courage to tackle the issues and invest to bring the scheme up to modern retailing standards.

An exhibition of the plans is available to everyone. I cannot believe that anyone will object to the radical proposals that will help progress Ipswich’s retail offering.

Probably most of the discussion will be about the change of name.

My view is that LaSalle are doing exactly the right thing. Tower Ramparts is now synonymous with non-investment and a declining offer. The new name signifies the scale of changes that they are planning.

It won’t be the old scheme with a lick of paint. It will be like having an entirely new scheme.

I love the new name. It emphasises the importance of Ipswich as a waterfront town and portrays it as brave in the way that it is changing. Yet, it also identifies the importance of the history of our place.

That’s what the Vision for Ipswich, now adopted by the Greater Ipswich Partnership, calls for.

The sooner the go-ahead for the changes is given, the better.