Frustration over Mint Quarter

CAR parking giant NCP is today privately blaming Ipswich council for its failure to develop the Mint Quarter between Carr Street and Tacket Street.The car park operator believes the council has "poached" potential tenants for its new site by putting the Civic Centre site on the market.

CAR parking giant NCP is today privately blaming Ipswich council for its failure to develop the Mint Quarter between Carr Street and Tacket Street.

The car park operator believes the council has "poached" potential tenants for its new site by putting the Civic Centre site on the market.

But council officials believe that the Mint Quarter was facing serious problems long before they revealed the Civic Centre site would become available.

Senior bosses at NCP have always been very guarded about their hopes for the development - the official line remains, as ever, that they hope to get work started in the future.


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But the Star understands they feel any hopes they had of getting new large retailers to invest in that area were scuppered when news of the Civic Centre site broke.

A business insider said: "You're not going to get two major retail developments going up simultaneously at opposite ends of the town centre.

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"One of the major retailers NCP was hoping to attract lost interest as soon as the Civic Centre site was suggested - the council has effectively whipped the carpet out from under the company."

However the borough was very sceptical about the claim.

"The idea that the Civic Centre site could become available for retail development wasn't even on the horizon until late last year.

"We had had not discussions about the site with anyone before then - and we know NCP had difficulty finding anyone for the Mint Quarter long before then," said a borough spokesman.

Waitrose is the front-runner in the race to develop a large store on the Civic Centre site.

It will not confirm its interest - saying it doesn't make any announcements until they are signed and sealed.

However borough officials have confirmed they have talked to the up-market food retailer.

And last year Waitrose specifically rejected the idea of building a new store on the Mint Quarter.

"We are interested in moving to the Ipswich area, but it will not be in the Mint Quarter," a spokeswoman for the company told the Star last August.

nIs NCP right to blame Ipswich Council for scuppering the Mint Quarter? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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