Ipswich: Optimism work could soon start again at Waterfront tower

IPSWICH: The economic clouds which have hovered over Ipswich’s iconic Waterfront development in recent years are beginning to clear, it emerged today.

Work could restart within months on the tallest building in town – giving a kickstart to the whole development.

The 23-storey Mill building looks complete from the outside but internally much of it is little more than a shell and no flats have been built.

However, The Ipswich Star can reveal that hopes are rising that a developer will be prepared to complete it, bringing in a welcome cash boost to the project – and another shot in the arm for Ipswich.

The administrators for The Mill site have had an approach and Ipswich MP Ben Gummer is hopeful this will see work restarting.


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He said: “This could be just what we need to get things moving on the Waterfront.

“If there is some cash coming into the project, it could allow other things to happen.”

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The administrators of The Mill, Baker Tilly, are due to also take over as administrators of the neighbouring Regatta Quay development – but the final legal papers have not yet been signed off.

However work on producing a masterplan for the redevelopment of the site has been going on – and Mr Gummer is hopeful that the result could be good for the Waterfront.

He said: “I think we may end up with fewer flats than originally proposed but that’s no bad thing.

“There would be more space for people to circulate and for events like craft markets.”

The news that work could restart was welcomed by borough council leader David Ellesmere.

He said: “The development of the Waterfront is vital for the future of Ipswich, so if work does restart on The Mill that would the best possible news for the town.”

One building whose fate is still unclear is the “wine rack,” part of the Regatta Quay development.

The masterplan is expected to look at whether it would be possible to develop the skeleton – but The Star understands that no firm decisions have yet been made about its future.

n How important is The Waterfront to the future of the town? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk

Timeline:

2006: Demolition work takes place at two of the largest Waterfront plants – Pauls Maltings and Cranfields Mill – which are to become Regatta Quay and The Mill respectively.

2007: Work starts on both sites, the first of two towers at Regatta Quay is “topped out”.

2009: Work on the Regatta Quay halts with the skeleton of the second tower left incomplete.

Jan 2010: Regatta Quay developer City Living goes into administration after talks with its banker Anglo Irish. Grant Thornton appointed administrators.

May 2010: The Mill developer Wharfside Regeneration is put into administration by its bank Allied Irish. Baker Tilly appointed administrators.

Late 2010: Irish banking crisis. Toxic elements of major banks – including those to the two Ipswich developments – transferred to new body the National Asset Management Authority (NAMA).

November 2011: Officials from NAMA visit Ipswich Waterfront. As they now control both sites they decide to put them under a single administrator, Baker Tilly. They also reveal a masterplan will be drawn up during the spring of 2012 aimed at finding a way to restart work.

March 2012: Hopes rise that work on The Mill could soon resume. About two thirds of the flats remain unfinished.

IPSWICH is being hailed as a Beacon Town - showing the way out of the economic problems that have dogged the country for the last three years.

This latest news comes just two weeks after the Ipswich Star organised a major conference of political and business leaders to find a way of boosting the town across the region.

n Tell us why you’re backing Ipswich - write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk

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