Civic Centre revamp set to start soon

CONSTRUCTION of a plush new retail area in Ipswich is likely to get under way within a year following the sale of the former Civic Centre site, The Evening Star can reveal.

CONSTRUCTION of a plush new retail area in Ipswich is likely to get under way within a year following the sale of the former Civic Centre site, The Evening Star can reveal.

As part of a multi-million pound deal, Ipswich Borough Council has sold its former Civic Drive offices and the spiral car park to Chelmsford-based property firm Turnstone Estates.

Chief Executive at Ipswich Borough Council, James Hehir, described the deal as “exciting news” for Ipswich that will enhance the area.

He said: “We are delighted it has been sold for two reasons, firstly it has paid for our move to Grafton House and secondly it means the site can now be developed.

“It is a double win for Ipswich and a big vote of confidence in the town.

“The next stage is for them (Turnstone) to work on, and submit, a planning application for the whole of that site which can include retail, office and residential.

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“One of the important things is we want to make sure it enhances that area of Ipswich and certainly complements the New Wolsey Theatre.”

Mr Hehir said there was likely to be more street retail and probably a large store.

He said: “There has been a great deal of interest in Ipswich from a lot of major food stores who are very interested in having a store in Ipswich.

“It is now down to Turnstones to go around the market and put together the best deal they can.”

The council has added a clause into the deal to ensure that work begins promptly.

Mr Hehir said he is hopeful construction will be under way within a year subject to planning consent.

He added that as well as taking over the spiral company the developers will be obliged to provide further parking for the site.

The site has been prepared for redevelopment for close to four years since it emerged the council was looking to move to new offices.

The final move was decided in 2004 with the council actually moving out in September last year.

Waitrose were for a long time seen as favourites to redevelop the site and at one stage it was suggested that John Lewis' property arm might buy the entire site and build shops for other retailers as well as a Waitrose store.

Turnstone has been involved in a number of large developments in the past including sites in Cambridge, Chelmsford, Kings Lynn and London.

n> What are your hopes for the development? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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