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Ipswich waiting to hear how new fund could transform town centre

PUBLISHED: 11:30 01 November 2018

Will the new scheme bring people back to Ipswich town centre? Picture: NEIL PERRY

Will the new scheme bring people back to Ipswich town centre? Picture: NEIL PERRY

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Bosses in Ipswich are waiting to hear how they can apply for a share of the government’s multi-million pound transformation fund to boost town centres.

The main part of the former Ipswich Co-op department store is earmarked to become a new town centre primary school, opening in September 2019.The main part of the former Ipswich Co-op department store is earmarked to become a new town centre primary school, opening in September 2019.

Bosses in Ipswich are waiting to hear how they can apply for a share of the government’s multi-million pound transformation fund to boost town centres.

But they are also drawing up their own plans to improve the heart of the town following the reopening of the Cornhill after its £3.6m facelift.

During Monday’s budget speech Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond announced a £650m transformation fund for towns and cities across Britain to try to breathe new life into their central areas.

The news comes amid increased pressures on town centres from the threat of internet shopping to traditional retailers.

There have been no details of how this windfall will be allocated – but officials at Ipswich council are trying to get some clarification from Whitehall departments.

Council leader David Ellesmere said: “We don’t know any details yet, but the indications are that this will be aimed at looking for some other uses for town centre buildings, especially encouraging more people to live in the heart of towns.

“We are currently working on our public realm strategy which will be published in the next few months and that will look at how the town centre should evolve.”

That may include extending the new paving from the Cornhill area along existing pedestrianised streets where some of the bricks laid in the 1980s are now cracked or loose.

And it is likely to look at finding new uses for some of the buildings that are no longer needed as shops following on from the conversion of the former Ipswich Co-op Department store in Carr Street into a new primary school for children living in and around the town centre.

Ipswich Vision Partnership chair Terry Hunt, who represents private and public sector organisations in the town, welcomed the news that the government was making funds available to help transform town centres.

He said: “It is clear that the future of the town centre has to evolve with a focus on making it place for people to meet and get together with retail at its heart but also leisure and other sectors.

“And making more provision for people to live in the town centre will be at the heart of this change.

“The partnership will look forward to seeing what the government can offer to help the town to develop.”

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