Calls for town centre to return to ‘Victorian times’ following Waitrose closure
- Credit: Lucy Taylor
Business leaders are expressing their disappointment at the news that Waitrose is to pull out of the Corn Exchange in Ipswich town centre.
Today Waitrose announced that its Corn Exchange store will close on December 6 due to challenging trading conditions.
Previously Ipswich Central had called for major businesses to bring their employees back into town centre offices in a bid to help boost the high street economy.
In response to the news, Terry Hunt, chairman of Ipswich Vision, said: “It’s one of the symptoms of the fact that so many people are working from home,” he said.
“The little Waitrose was very much geared towards people popping in for a sandwich or a coffee at lunchtime and, unfortunately, those office workers are by and large not at their desks at the moment.
“It accentuates the need for Ipswich Vision and its partners to work very hard to ensure the buildings around the Cornhill are brought back into use.”
Mr Hunt went on to call for more people to live in the town centre to replace the footfall that has been lost from office workers.
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“We need more people living in the town centre,” he said. “That’s got to be a top priority.
“Our reliance on retail was fine for probably 100 years but now we actually need to go back to the way our town centre was in Victorian times.
“We’ve got far too few people living in our town centre at the moment.”
Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central, said: “It is incredibly disappointing news and a real loss for the town centre.
“The owners of the building, who in this instance are Ipswich Borough Council, must be encouraged to bring forward an alternative use as soon as it’s practically possible.”
Colin Kreidewolf, a Labour member of Ipswich Borough Council, said: “It’s disappointing news for the town centre, but it’s pleasing that they’re maintaining their store on the edge of town.
“It’s really a result of the pandemic affecting all town centres throughout the country.
“I wasn’t anticipating it – although we knew they had a lease renewal coming up in the next couple of years.”