Ipswich: Wine rack set to be completed after Waterfront sale

Properties that are currently in administration on the Ipswich waterfront may be purchased separatel

Properties that are currently in administration on the Ipswich waterfront may be purchased separately rather in a lot of three. - Credit: Archant

For years the wine rack on the Ipswich Waterfront has been the symbol of the recession in the town.

But in the week in which the governor of the Bank of England said the UK recovery has “taken hold” there is new hope that work on the skeleton tower could soon resume.

The Waterfront buildings of The Mill and Regatta Quay are being sold in three lots – the wine rack, the 23-storey Mill Tower and the building beside it, and the remainder of the The Mill.

The decision to sell the Waterfront buildings in three separate lots has caused some concern – but the prospect of a rapid restart of work on the most potent symbol of the recession in Ipswich has been welcomed.

A number of bidders had sought to complete the construction of Regatta Quay and The Mill where work has been at a standstill after their original developers went into administration four years ago.

Among the bidders was Ipswich council, which had hoped to buy the entire development to remodel and complete.

Borough leader David Ellesmere said he had hoped the entire development would be sold as a single lot to ensure the work was completed in a co-ordinated way.

Most Read

However he was encouraged to hear that work could start on the wine rack early in the new year.

He said: “It that happens it would be fantastic for the town. Part of me will believe it when I see it, but that would be the best possible sign that things are happening.”

He believed the fact that the borough had put in a bid for the entire area had shown the administrators and the National Asset Management Authority (NAMA), which took over the assets of struggling Irish banks, that there was a need to restart work on the Waterfront.

It is understood that the purchasers of the wine rack – officially the second tower of the Regatta Quay development – are hoping to use the planning permission granted in 2009 to get started on work in the new year.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer has taken a keen interest in the future of the Waterfront, and helped bring the two sites together under a joint administrator back in 2011.

He said: “If if is the case that work starts on the wine rack early next year, that will be very good news for Ipswich.

“Every month it remains in its current state is another month of missed opportunities so I am very keen to see something happen there.

“Frankly I don’t care whether the entire site is taken over by one developer, or whether it is split. I just want to see it finished and realise its potential creating new homes and new jobs for the town.”

Lot one:

The main Mill tower and smaller block beside it – externally complete, but internally still just a shell. The polystyrene cladding on the main tower was damaged in last month’s storm. The bottom floor is the hugely-successful Jerwood Dance Centre.

Lot two:

The remainder of The Mill, including some areas that are complete around an open square. There is some doubt about the future of the undeveloped Victorian facade on the wet dock – many feel it would be better to demolish this and open up the square beyond.

Lot three:

The undeveloped second tower of Regatta Quay that has been dubbed the wine rack – there have been doubts about whether it could be developed, but now it seems that work could start early next year.