Centre could be in the market for hotel

IPSWICH'S largest shopping centre is in line for major expansion which could include the development of a new hotel in the heart of the town.

IPSWICH'S largest shopping centre is in line for major expansion which could include the development of a new hotel in the heart of the town.

The Buttermarket shopping centre was sold to new owners last September and they are now looking at an ambitious expansion programme.

Centre manager Colin Roberts said the new owner, Protego, was looking at a number of options.

He said: “One of the ideas is possibly to develop a hotel as part of the centre. They have talked to a number of hotel operators and they agree there is a need for a new hotel in the centre of the town.


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“At the moment it is very early days and it would take a lot of work to build up a proposal, but it is one possibility for the future.”

The centre cannot expand outwards because it is on a very restricted site.

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Mr Roberts said: “The only way it could go is up, but there is quite a bit of space in the building. It actually has three roofs with space between them.

“Any new uses here would have to be within the existing footprint of the store but I have to emphasise it is still early days. At present we are just looking at ideas.”

He said he felt the fact the owners were looking at all the options was good news for the town.

“Protego are very optimistic about the future of Ipswich and see it as a growing community. They are here for the long term,” he said.

Ipswich Borough Council economic development spokesman Richard Atkins said the town still needed hotel bedrooms and the Buttermarket proposal would be worth looking at.

He said: “I visited a town in Germany near Bonn which has a hotel in a shopping mall - guests use the mall's car park overnight. It works well and if there is space at the Buttermarket it sounds like a very interesting prospect.”

And Scott Dolling from the Suffolk Tourism Partnership agreed the town needed more hotel rooms and added the idea of creating them from the Buttermarket shopping centre was worth looking at.

One development at the Buttermarket that will be taking place soon is the expansion of the TJ Hughes department store on to a third floor.

Fitting out is currently under way and is due to be completed later in the spring, with the area possibly opening at Easter.

Does Ipswich need more hotels? Write to: Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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