Ipswich gets £25m from Towns Deal to boost recovery
- Credit: Paul Geater
A £25million windfall for Ipswich from the government's Towns Deal Fund has been hailed as a "fantastic boost" which will have a "transformative effect" on its regeneration after Covid.
However, business and political leaders warned that after previous attempts to revamp the town: "This time our approach must be different if we want to get it right."
The giant windfall was confirmed in the Budget on Wednesday.
It will enable work to be carried out on 11 projects, mainly in the town centre and Waterfront areas, which will be aimed at pump-priming a recovery in its fortunes after the shock of the Covid crisis.
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt and Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter have been part of the Towns Deal board chaired by Ipswich Vision Partnership's Terry Hunt.
The money will provide an important opportunity to improve the lives of people throughout the town including in communities like Whitton, Whitehouse, Chantry and Gainsborough.
Those areas will see improvements to their local shopping parades and community facilities.
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The town centre will also see a welcome cash boost to support its regeneration, as Ipswich shops and businesses begin to recover after a difficult year caused by the Covid pandemic.
Tom Hunt said: "I'm very pleased that we have secured the full £25m.
"Together the 11 projects that will be funded provide a significant boost to our town at just the right time.
"Both myself and Dan are keen to ensure that this new investment gets right across the town, particularly to some of the areas that understandably feel like they been a bit left behind in recent years.
"There is much that has excited me about the investment we will be getting.
"From the investment in skills and opportunities for young people, the training of the next generation of nurses and social care staff, and the giving of a new lease of life to many of our town’s most iconic buildings that have been allowed to fall into disrepair for too long, this money will make a real difference.
"When communities secretary Robert Jenrick visited Ipswich before the last general election, some local figures poured scorn on the visit. One even dismissed it as an 'election bribe'.
"Personally, I believe that this £25m is a real demonstration of the government's commitment to the town and that the vast majority of my constituents will welcome it.
"Hopefully, there may be more government investment over the coming years."
Dr Poulter said “I am pleased to have played a key role in delivering £25m for the town.
"This money will provide a fantastic boost for north-west Ipswich, where residents will see a real difference and improvements to their local shopping parades.
"These local community shops are a vital asset for those living and working in the area and investment in local shopping parades is one of the key ways we can make this money reach furthest for people across every community in Ipswich.
“There have been previous attempts to regenerate Ipswich, but this time our approach must be different if we want to get it right.
"Tom and I have worked hard together to achieve this, and we are delighted with the successful outcome and look forward to seeing these projects, backed by the people of Ipswich, coming to reality over the next three years.”
Ipswich council's Labour leader David Ellesmere is also part of the Towns Deal board.
He said: "This is the upper end of what we had been expecting and it will enable us to make a real difference to the town.
"There is enough here to have a really transformative effect on Ipswich and we are looking forward to hearing when we can get to work."
Terry Hunt, Ipswich Town Deal Board chairman, said: “I am thrilled by this award.
"It will mean we are able to take huge steps forward in our ambitions to regenerate Ipswich town centre, and also our very important district centres.
“I look forward to working with the Town Board and other partners to bring these vitally important projects to fruition.
"This is a really good day for Ipswich.”
Terry Baxter, chairman of Ipswich Central, added: “This announcement is a huge boost for our town centre at a time when it is needed most.
"I am delighted that, alongside our Town Deal partners, Ipswich Central has played a major role in developing this ambitious programme and now getting approval for the investment needed from the government.
"The projects - including the innovative Digital Ipswich Project devised by Ipswich Central in response to feedback from businesses - will not only positively transform Ipswich but will also help the bounce back after the devastating effects of the pandemic.
"We are grateful for the support of our partners and now look forward to working with them to deliver the projects.”
There will be cash for projects including town centre and Waterfront regeneration, the restoration of the former St Paul’s silo building which could turn an eyesore into a valuable asset, and funding to support a new care academy to train the next generation of health and social care workers at the university.
The full list of projects included in the scheme are:
· Pedestrian / Cycle Bridge over the Wet Dock lock (Ipswich Waterfront)
· Restoration of former Paul’s Building (Ipswich Waterfront)
· Re-using the Old Post Office Building (Cornhill, Ipswich)
· Town Centre Regeneration - re-using empty buidings.
· Integrated Care Academy (University of Suffolk)
· Tech Campus and Sustainable Construction Centre (Suffolk New College)
· Academy of Yacht Building (Island site)
· Creation of a digital town centre
· Local Shopping Parades regeneration fund