Ipswich Vision promises taking too long for many – but change is starting to come through
The Ipswich Vision is taking much longer than hoped to transform the town centre, according to the results of our survey into what people think about the project two years after it was launched.
While many think the town is making progress, most people feel improvements are taking too long to come through – and there are doubts about some of the aims of the Vision partners.
The top priority for the Ipswich Vision should be trying to attract more retailers to the town centre according to our survey (30%). This was followed by improving road access and car parks (26%) – followed by bringing more businesses into the town centre (24%).
When we asked which were the most important projects for Vision, improving car parks came out top (35%) followed by developing the Upper Orwell Crossing (32%) and regenerating the Cornhill (30%).
Most people don’t think the Vision aims have had much effect so far. Nearly half (49%) said nothing major had changed in the town centre and any improvements would have happened without the Vision partners.
Of those who felt things were getting better, 29% said things were happening slower than they hoped, 14% said it was early days but things were improving, and only 8% felt there had been a major change for the better.
There was scepticism about the value of boosting homes in the town centre. Most people (72%) highlighted unfinished and empty flats. Of the rest, 15% felt there was some demand for new homes in the town but most people preferred to live in larger homes outside the town centre while only 13% felt there was an increased demand for urban living.
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More than two thirds of people (71%) felt a northern bypass would be good for the town centre – only a minority felt it would take people to retail parks out of the central area.
And at this stage there is deep scepticism about whether the aims in the report will ever be achieved. A total of 59% felt they would not be achieved – and any improvements will come along anyway.
A total of 28% felt there were good ideas, but it was unlikely all would be achieved. Only 13% of those who took part felt it was a realistic document that could transform the town centre over the next 10 years.
Partners give a welcome to findings of the poll on future of central Ipswich
Representatives of two of the key partners on the Ipswich Vision board have welcomed the findings of the Star survey.
Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said the high priority given to the need for new car parking justified the borough’s decision to rebuild the Crown car park.
He said: “We know there is a lot to do in the town, but things are starting. We are building a new Crown car park and looking for a site for another multi-storey in the Princes Street area.
“The creation of the business district along Princes Street is a major improvement in the town.”
Suffolk County Council cabinet member for Ipswich, Paul West said the Vision proved the value of politicians and business leaders working together.
He said: “We have seen a great deal of co-operation, but major changes do take time and I am sure that things in the town will improve significantly over the next few years.”