Ipswich set to draw up a £25m wishlist – where should money be spent?
- Credit: Archant
How would you spend £25m to make Ipswich a more attractive centre to visit over the next few years? That’s the question residents of the town – and regular visitors – are going to be asked over the next few weeks before a wishlist is sent to the government.
The Ipswich Town Deal Board has been set up to bid for the money from the government which is being made available to 100 communities across the country from the government’s £3.6bn Towns’ Fund.
The new scheme was announced before the General Election in December – but is now seen as a vital element to help communities recover from the impact of the coronavirus crisis and lockdown.
The Town Deal Board has been formed by expanding the Ipswich Vision Board – and although the money is not only for town centre projects, schemes aimed at boosting the heart of the town and access to it are expected to feature prominently in the proposals.
On Monday Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick told the House of Commons he was delighted Ipswich was putting forward a bid – and his department was looking forward to seeing it.
Answering a question from Ipswich MP Tom Hunt about the application, Mr Jenrick said: “I am delighted that the ideas developed over the last several years by the Ipswich Vision Board are being used as the foundation of the Ipswich Town Deal.
“We have also recently announced that Ipswich, like other towns who are recipients of the towns’ fund, can apply to my department for up to £1m to kick start their economy.”
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Town Deal Board Chair Terry Hunt said that while they had until the end of October to make the bid, members hoped to have proposals ready by the end of September.
He said: “There needs to be an element of public consultation – we will need to show the government there is backing from the public for what we are proposing. We are now working out how that will happen.”
One scheme that seems almost certain to be included is getting a government contribution to repaving Arras Square – Ipswich council warned earlier this month that it could only afford half the estimated cost of repairing it.
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt welcomed Mr Jenrick’s comments: “He visited the town during the election campaign and I think he was impressed by the potential there is here,” he said.