Ipswich 'dining quarter' set to change town centre

The Little Waitrose in the Corn Exchange closed at Christmas

The former Little Waitrose premises will form part of a new 'dining quarter' in Ipswich - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Approval for a new restaurant near Ipswich’s Cornhill could pave the way for a dining quarter that will give the town centre a new lease of life.

Ipswich Borough Council’s executive has agreed to grant a 25-year lease for a restaurant chain to fill the former Little Waitrose store - which closed last autumn.

This will see a new street-food restaurant - part of the Dough & Co Pizza group -  move in.

With The Botanist already confirmed as the new tenant for the former Post Office building, town leaders hope the move to leisure and dining could give the town centre a boost following a soul-searching period for the town’s high streets.

Ipswich Borough Council’s Labour leader David Ellesmere told the executive meeting: “It has been well documented that the town centre is expected to change as a result of the pandemic but also wider society changes, so we are expecting a greater focus on living, leisure and social interaction.

“It’s considered that having a cluster of bars and restaurants in close proximity to the core town centre should lead to an improved offering and attraction for both day and night visitors to Ipswich.”

The council’s report said: “It is entirely likely that this letting and investment
will attract similar operators and further aid recovery efforts.”

Mr Ellesmere said the restaurant bid was looked on favourably because it is “different to any existing provision in the town centre,” while the 25-year lease term “offers the council long term income and the operator some security to establish a successful restaurant at this location”.

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The council has agreed some funding to aid the fit-out of the unit for restaurant use and ventilation work required for any new tenant.

Mr Ellesmere confirmed that the store had been marketed thoroughly but had generated “limited demand” for its current use.

However, other units around the Cornhill have remained empty for lengthy periods.

Those include the former JD Wetherspoon Golden Lion pub which served its last pint in 2016, and the former Grimwades store which had been due to become a Pret A Manger before the chain axed plans in January 2019.