Ipswich: Blueprint is unveiled for the future of town centre

IPSWICH: Radical moves to transform the town centre over the next 15 years were unveiled today – but the ambitious bid to build a new Mint Quarter has been scrapped.

The plans include redeveloping the two bus stations and creating a Merchant Quarter.

But the 20-year dream of building a new Mint Quarter shopping centre looks set to be abandoned. The Tacket Street site could instead be used for a new single bus station for the town centre.

At present the main axis of the town centre runs west to east from St Matthew’s Street to Major’s Corner.

However, the new town centre masterplan published by the borough suggests focusing on a north-south profile for the town, from Crown Street and Tower Ramparts to the Waterfront and railway station.

If planners get the green light, the two bus stations – at Tower Ramparts and the Old Cattle Market – would be redeveloped and a new bus station would be created on the site of the current Tacket Street car park.

A “medium-sized” multi-storey car park would be built next to it and there would be similar-sized parks near the Old Cattle Market, West End Road, the Waterfront, and on the site of the Crown Car park.

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The area between Falcon Street, St Peter’s Street, Lower Brook Street and Star Lane would be turned into the Merchant Quarter with redevelopment of the current bus station and other land in the area – including The Evening Star’s offices in Lower Brook Street.

The masterplan, which was drawn up by the borough working with Ipswich Central, is set to be debated by the borough council’s executive committee next week and is then likely to open for public debate during the early summer.

Richard Atkins, economic development spokesman, said: “This is so important for Ipswich and we will be consulting widely on the best way forward.

“Town centres are changing and we must stay ahead of the game, not only to survive but also to enhance our offer.” Mr Atkins said town centres needed to be much more than a collection of shops.

“We want to consider bringing more housing and mixed-use development into the heart of our town.”

He said Giles Circus showed the way for improvements in the town. Similar treatment is planned in Merchant Quarter.

Paul Clement, executive director of Ipswich Central, said: “We have been working with the borough for some while on a new vision and masterplan for the town centre.

“It is those town centres that are prepared to change themselves that will thrive in the future.”

n How should the town be improved? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

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