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Buttermarket developer working to transform former Ipswich BHS site

PUBLISHED: 16:13 22 August 2017 | UPDATED: 19:44 22 August 2017

The empty BHS store in Butter Market, Ipswich. Picture: JASON NOBLE

The empty BHS store in Butter Market, Ipswich. Picture: JASON NOBLE

Archant

The man who led the redevelopment of the Buttermarket Centre into a cinema-led leisure complex is working with the owners of the former BHS store on the opposite side of Arras Square.

Ken Ford in the Buttermarket Centre shortly before the Empire Cinema opened.Ken Ford in the Buttermarket Centre shortly before the Empire Cinema opened.

Ken Ford led the Capital and Regional team, which created the Empire Cinema and restaurants in the shopping centre, and is now working with the owners of the BHS site, Danish company K/S Habro.

It has formally lodged a planning application with Ipswich Council to convert the former department store in the Butter Market Street into seven separate units.

These would be two smaller stores, four restaurants, cafes or bars and a gym.

Mr Ford worked closely with Ipswich Borough Council during the redevelopment of the Buttermarket Centre and made no secret of the fact that he was looking for other projects in the area.

The centre itself was sold earlier this year to the National Grid Pension Fund for £55million – giving Capital and Regional and its partners Drum Investments a profit of £20m after two years of redevelopment.

His involvement with the BHS site brings the history of the Buttermarket centre nearly full circle – that was originally built as an annex to the centre on the site of the old ABC cinema before being converted into a BHS department store in the mid-1990s.

The store’s freehold was sold to the Danish company who are now working with Mr Ford and agents Barton Willmore to redevelop the site.

A spokesman for the owner’s development team said: “We believe our proposals to regenerate the site will strengthen the attraction of the Ipswich town centre by bringing an unoccupied building back to life, and creating a lively and attractive destination for Arras Square.

“The new scheme will complement and enhance the recent regeneration works to the Buttermarket Shopping Centre, and we look forward to working with Ipswich Borough Council, and the local community, to advance these plans.”

Although the formal application has only just been lodged with the borough council, it is understood there have been informal discussions for several weeks and many issues have been ironed out before it starts the formal journey through the planning process.

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