Ipswich: Bold new bid unveiled to improve links between town centre and Waterfront, develop cultural offerings and attract new retailers to Ipswich

Shoppers on the Cornhill

Shoppers on the Cornhill

A bid to boost Ipswich by attracting new national and international investment has been unveiled by a group representing businesses and authorities across the town.

The Greater Ipswich Partnership is made up of the county and borough councils, the chamber of commerce, Ipswich Central, and UCS with support from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

They have come up with nine priorities to develop the town and turn it into a major destination for those from outside and to make it more attractive to those who live in Ipswich.

These priorities are:

1. Further improvements to the town’s Waterfront by completing the redevelopment.

2. Improving the town centre, especially the quality of the retail offer by improving the Cornhill.

3. Stimulating new development of offices and shops, especially by ensuring development sites are completed.

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4. Supporting an ongoing promotion to boost the image of Ipswich across a wide area.

5. Co-ordinating marketing efforts aimed at bringing investment to the town.

6. Improving the town’s cultural life to enable it to develop as a visitor attraction.

7. Integrating the Waterfront with the town centre.

8.Making it easier to travel around the town.

9. Improving the links between the town centre and the railway station.

Ipswich Council leader David Ellesmere said it was important that the level of agreement was recognised: “This is the first time we have got all these organisations to agree on these kind of priorities,” he said.

John Dugmore said the involvement of both the private and the public sector was crucial: “These are priorities that have to be tackled by both sectors and it is very important that we have been able to come together like this.”

Ipswich has much going for it – its location makes it easily accessible to the City of London, it has good links to Cambridge and the largest container port in the country is just down the road.

County council chief executive Deborah Cadman said: “This is a vital strategy document for the county and the county town. There is no reason why we should not be able to really see the benefit over the next few years.”

And UCS provost Richard Lister whose Waterfront campus is the base for hundreds of students from a wide area said the town did need to sell its attractions – many students were pleasantly surprised when they arrived in Ipswich.

Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter said the vision document was vital for the town.

He said: “The organisations that comprise this partnership have come together with one outcome in mind; to make Ipswich – Suffolk’s county town and East Anglia’s premier Waterfront town – an even better place.

“We want to make it a better place to do business in, a better place to live in, a better place to work in, a better place to attract inward investment, and a better place to bring our children up in.”

Improving the cultural attraction to Ipswich is seen as vital in raising the profile of the town which could make it more attractive for people to live in, for companies to relocate to, and for more tourists to visit.

The partners are agreed that while the retail offer in the town needs to improve, it is never likely to rival other regional centres like Norwich or Cambridge.

However the cultural and leisure offering in the town – emphasised by its parks, the Waterfront, the potential from the rebuilding of the museum as the “High Street Campus” should give the town much to build on.

There is also hope that the rebirth of the Cliff Quay approach, centred on the old Tolly Cobbold brewery, will soon start to move forward again.

With all partners working together they hope to emulate the success of other places around the country that have re-invented themselves for the 21st century.

One of the most spectacular of these has been Hull, which had a reputation for being run-down and poverty-hit but has seen a renaissance of its docks and its cultural life.

It’s theatre has become very important and its links with William Wilberforce have now turned the city into a major destination – even though it is not known as a region-wide retail centre.

It has now been chosen as the new UK City of Culture.