Landmark building now full as Princes Street revamp continues apace
PUBLISHED: 10:37 31 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:44 31 March 2019
Last week I received an email from Malcolm Hobbs, the developer of Connexions (the former Fisons HQ), with the welcome news that the building is now fully let.
We worked closely with Malcolm to get this development going.
The council owned the freehold of the site, earning a tiny rent that was set back in the sixties. The remaining time left on lease posed a quandary for the leaseholder. It was too long to be affordable to give up but too short to justify the large investment needed in the building.
One way round this was to sell the freehold to the leaseholder. This is not something the council normally countenances but, in this case, we believed it was justified to unlock the development of the site.
There was an element of risk in this for the council but an even bigger one for Malcolm who undertook the development without having any tenants signed up.
I am pleased that this has paid off in spades.
Connexions is now fully occupied and home to businesses employing 250 workers.
And, because we managed to get it designated as part of the Princes Street Enterprise Zone, we can now use the business rates paid by these firms to bring forward further development.
We have already demolished the former Drum and Monkey pub and now have firm interest in this site from a hotel operator.
We have gained planning permission for an office building on the site of the former Landspeed garage and will now proceed to demolish this to make it more “shovel-ready” to potential occupiers.
We will also be building a new multi-storey car park on Portman Road so the current number of parking spaces can be maintained as the site is developed further. This will allow us to introduce new charging points for zero emission vehicles as we have in Crown Car Park.
Along with the Birketts building which the council funded and is now generating income to support services, and the former Malthouse, which is nearing completion, the transformation of Princes Street into a thriving business district is a real success story which Ipswich Borough Council has played a huge part in helping to deliver.
• David Ellesmere is the leader of Ipswich Borough Council.