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Ipswich BHS overhaul due to get approval this week

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 December 2017

The empty BHS building in Ipswich town centre. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

The empty BHS building in Ipswich town centre. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

Archant

Plans to divide the former BHS store in Ipswich into smaller units containing a gym, shops and restaurants are set to be given the green light this week.

In August plans were submitted to divide the vacant unit in Butter Market into seven separate spaces, with the proposals hoping to create two smaller retail units, three restaurants or cafes, a restaurant and bar and a gym.

The application is due to be decided at Ipswich Borough Council’s planning and development committee on Wednesday, where it is recommended to be given the go-ahead.

A spokesman from Barton Willmore, agents for developer K/S Habro-Ipswich City, said: “The proposal is to bring new life into an existing building that has now been vacant for 12 months.

“The current retail market dictates that a building of this size will not be sustainable if occupied by a single retail unit.

“The regeneration of the internal space will add to the recent wholesale regeneration and improvement of the Buttermarket Shopping Centre and will bring added vitality and life into the St Stephens Lane/Arras Square area along will the strengthening of the active ‘high street’ frontage on Butter Market.”

The store closed in August 2016 when BHS went into administration, but had not been occupied since.

It had filled the space since 1995 when the existing mall and shops were converted into one large unit.

The plans also aim to continue the improvements in the Arras Square area following on from the redesign of the Buttermarket Centre.

The Barton Willmore spokesman added: “The proposal will provide a positive contribution to St Stephens Lane and Arras Square will enhance the character and appearance of the area.

“The design includes for the use of a section of external space to form a seating/terrace area associated with the adjoining A3 unit, which will add to the overall ‘destination’ of the area.”

A poll conducted by this newspaper online in August revealed that two thirds (67%) of more than 570 participants backed the plans.

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement said it was “best subdivided” and added that town centres needed to offer more than just large retail units.

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