Have your say on plans to transform Ipswich into a 'connected town'
- Credit: Rachel Edge
A public consultation has been launched as part of bold plans to transform Ipswich town centre into a desirable place to live with easy access to all of its major facilities.
The Ipswich Vision Partnership - which includes local councils, the town's MP Tom Hunt and business groups - has proposed the "connected town" concept as part of plans to recover from the Covid lockdowns.
The partnership is seeking views from residents on proposals to create better walking and cycling links between areas such the Cornhill, Waterfront, railway station and parklands, creating a more viable place to live and work.
An online survey, which is available on Ipswich Vision's website, has been launched for the scheme, which is being partly supported by the £25million Towns Fund cash Ipswich was awarded in March's Budget.
The survey asks for participants' views on the importance of aspects such as public transport links, visitor accommodation, hospitality options, retail and digital connectivity in the town.
Ipswich Vision has said the town centre "must continue to evolve" in the wake of the Covid pandemic and lockdowns, which have resulted in the closures of many high street businesses.
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The partnership has said the key feature of the 'connected town' is "the feeling of an urban neighbourhood, with a greater density of people living within closer proximity of one another".
The development of new housing sites around the town centre has been proposed to achieve this.
Terry Hunt, chairman of Ipswich Vision, said the departures of a number of town centre retailers - most notably Debenhams - had been hastened by the pandemic.
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He said: "It's been apparent for a number of years that town centre retail is declining. That has accelerated in the last 18 months and there's been some high-profile departures, like Debenhams.
"If we do nothing, we're in danger of ending up with a hollowed-out town.
"We want to encourage people to live in the town centre. Life there needs to be attractive and the whole concept is to provide people with everything that they need to live their lives within a 15-minute walk or cycle journey.
"What we're trying to find out is people's priorities for the town centre. We really want to know what are the important facilities we need to attract people to live there.
"Covid has accelerated the changes which had been happening over the decades. This is Ipswich Vision's response to the changes. Sitting back and doing nothing is not an option."