Residents want to make more visits to Ipswich town centre

Jackie Sadek and Prof Dave Muller

Jackie Sadek and Prof Dave Muller discuss the survey's findings. - Credit: Beckie Egan Photography

People are keen to use the town centre more and see it as more of a leisure destination as we emerge from the Covid pandemic according to a new survey from the Ipswich Vision Partnership.

It also showed that the concept of the "Connected Town," where people live within a 15-minute walk of the town centre, is so popular that 14% of those living further out of town would consider moving into the heart of Ipswich.

The survey was commissioned by the Vision Partnership and All About Ipswich destination management organisation (DMO) as part of its pitch to transform the town.

Almost 1,900 residents took part in the survey online, being contacted in the street or by phone, and there were responses from 183 businesses operating in the town.

Of the residents, most said they had no fears about using the town centre after the Covid pandemic and 27% said they intended to use it more in the future.

The survey did show that residents recognised there were problems with the town centre - particularly the number of empty shops - and said they wanted to see other uses for buildings including doctors and dentists surgeries, gyms or other community uses.

People wanted to see a greater emphasis on leisure - and also hoped to see more green areas in the town centre.

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The research was commissioned by Prof Dave Muller, the chair of All About Ipswich. He said: “This has been the largest consultation process on the town centre for many years.

"A combination of the high number of respondents together with the richness of the data, makes it invaluable to the future strategy.

"Overwhelmingly, people made it clear that they know improvements are needed; but they are up for change and remain committed to the town centre’s future success.”

The survey has been published just weeks after the appointment of regeneration expert Jackie Sadek as new chair of Ipswich Vision Partnership. She said: “This is a very extensive research project, way beyond what is usual for a town of our size.

"I am impressed by how aspirational the Ipswich people are. I only started on November 1 but, already, I feel that we are in a conversation with over 2,000 people who have given us a very clear instruction – be bold, be brave, but deliver."