Futura is looking bright for town

IT IS great news that retail giants DFS and Furniture Village want to join John Lewis At Home and Waitrose at Futura Park – on the former Crane site.

I know some will express regret that they are not looking at sites in the town centre – but to be honest these kind of bulky retailers were never going to the town centre.

So while the Futura is looking bright, where does this leave the town centre?

Actually it’s looking better than it has – with those responsible for it now starting to come to terms that it has to evolve from just being a retail centre to having a much wider appeal.

If Vue Cinemas do convert the empty department store in the Buttermarket Centre into a multiplex, it would be a great boost for the heart of the town.

And planners and the public have to give up their dream of big new shopping centres at the Mint Quarter and the Civic Centre site.

Smaller-scale developments with a few shop units scattered in with cafes, bars and attractive town houses (no more flats please) are far more sensible than trying to persuade a department store group to come to a town it is not really interested in.

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This message is getting across to everyone from the borough’s planning department to Ipswich Central and the Ipswich Society. That is why the news about Tesco a couple of weeks has got a generally positive welcome.

If people are going to live in the town centre, they want a good supermarket on their doorstep – not a massive superstore geared up to people driving to it from some way away.

And while some may still dream of turning Ipswich into a massive regional centre, that is not something that is going to happen anytime soon.

The first thing that is needed is for it to have the right mix of retailers to stop customers having to drive to Norwich, Cambridge, or even Colchester for what they want – and that is now starting to happen.