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Council fails to buy back Civic Centre site in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 13:22 19 December 2014 | UPDATED: 13:22 19 December 2014

Former Civic Centre site in  Ipswich

Former Civic Centre site in Ipswich

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Ipswich council has failed in its bid to buy back the site of its former Civic Centre headquarters in the town centre.

But it is not yet known who was the successful bidder in the race to take on the site of the former tower block, the underground spiral car park and two surface car parks.

Borough officials were told earlier this week that it was not the preferred bidder for the site – but the authority could still have a major say on how the site is developed.

It is the planning authority, and it does own the former police station in Elm Street and the former Crown Court building. It would be difficult to redevelop the site without including these two pieces of land.

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere was disappointed at the news, and said the authority was hoping to find out soon who had been successful.

He said: “We know there were at least two other bidders. We don’t know if this has been bought by a developer or by a car park operator.”

Mr Ellesmere said that when the council sold the site 10 years ago the underground car park was known to need a considerable amount of money spent on it in future years – he was not sure how much it now needed spending on it, but thought it was still a substantial amount.

However the council’s failure to buy the site could avoid a serious clash with Ipswich Central – the borough was keen to see new retail units built on the site, while the town centre managers are keen to see future investment in the town concentrated on the north-south axis between Tower Ramparts and the Waterfront.

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement said he was keen to avoid seeing a retail-based development on the site, and would prefer it to used mainly for new homes.

Borough opposition leader Nadia Cenci was disappointed that the borough had missed out on the site because it would mean there was a loss of control over the future of the town centre.

However she shared Ipswich Central’s concerns about a retail-led development on the site: “I would like to see it used for a really good leisure-based proposal,” she said.

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