From derelict wasteland to thriving business area – 10 years of Futura Park
PUBLISHED: 19:00 09 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:15 10 September 2020
Back in 2011 the former factory site appeared to have little going for it when Chelmsford-based developers AquiGen bought it. It was known to be one of the most heavily contaminated sites in Suffolk and there had been debate at the borough about whether it should be allocated for housing or commercial development.
But AquiGen moved quickly once it bought the site – and in early 2012 it announced had signed up Waitrose and John Lewis for the site. Getting those stores in town had been a long-held ambition for Ipswich.
MORE: Waitrose and John Lewis At Home open in Ipswich
Paul Isaacs from AquiGen said: “We were talking to Waitrose and once it was clear that John Lewis At Home was interested in joining them we were off – that gave us the ability to get on, clean up the site and bring in the infrastructure.”
Waitrose and John Lewis opened together at the end of 2012, just in time for the Christmas season, and the following year the new retail units on the other side of James Bennett Avenue opened.
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Since then there has been a steady stream of new arrivals – car dealerships, a storage centre, new industrial units, and this week the start of work on a new factory for Hubbard Products.
MORE: Work starts at Hubbard Products’ new site
There is only one site still to be let – and it’s potential occupier is Ipswich’s worst-kept secret: discount supermarket Lidl has applied for a drinks licence for the site and is hoping to relocate its Ravenswood store there by the end of next year.
Mr Isaacs said: “We have some final details to be agreed with the planners – but we hope that proposal will come through before the end of this year and we can start building there early in 2021.
“When I look back to what this was like when we took on the site, Futura Park does look like a very worthwhile project for us and for Ipswich.”
Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere was at the park for the start of work on the new Hubbard factory. He said: “Futura Park has been a real success story for Ipswich and it was very interesting to hear AquiGen point out that there are now more than 1,000 jobs based there. That has been good co-operation between the developers, our planning officers and councillors and that has helped to see this come together.”
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