Latest Ipswich Vision bid targets £40m tourism boost

From left to right: BBC Suffolk's Steve Foster, Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter, renewal steer

From left to right: BBC Suffolk's Steve Foster, Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter, renewal steering group chairman Alistair Lang, Ipswich Central marketing director Fiona Wright and Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement - Credit: Archant

From developing the Waterfront and getting the best out of businesses to cleaning the streets and making the town safer, the Ipswich Vision has been instrumental in turning the fortunes of Suffolk’s county town around.

Update on Butter Market, Ipswich.

Update on Butter Market, Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

But now, almost a decade after work to transform the town began, Ipswich Central has outlined a fresh plan to continue Ipswich’s upward journey – headlined by big plans to promote the tourism industry.

Launched at DanceEast yesterday as a renewal to the existing Business Improvement District (BID), Ipswich Central urged businesses to back the continuation of its work on safety around the town, economic growth, housing and cultural growth and retail expansion.

Formally launched in 2007, the BID introduced a raft of measures to improve the town, including spending more than £34,000 over the last five years removing graffiti, installing planters along the high street, establishing the street rangers to keep town centre streets safe and support businesses, and upping the promotion of the town through the All About Ipswich website.

But as well as ground-level improvements, the Ipswich Vision laid out by Ipswich Central with its partners Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk County Council, MP Ben Gummer, University of Suffolk, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, has also been involved in bigger developments.

Among those are the £3.5million revamp of the Cornhill, the Princes Street corridor, 2,500 new homes planned for the town centre and the £150m wet dock project.

How the Cornhill could soon look

How the Cornhill could soon look - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter said: “I think we are in a good place, but you never take for granted the fact that you will continue into another period.

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“We are confident we can see good on our promises from five years ago and we have a very clear plan for the next five years.”

At the renewed plan’s unveiling yesterday, Ipswich Central committed to using the levy its 633 members pay each year to continue its existing schemes as well as expanding the BID area, if members choose to continue the BID when they vote next month.

The renewed BID, which will run from 2017-2022, will include the area around the rail station, Christchurch Park and the south quay and island on the Waterfront, which have all been identified as key areas for increasing tourism.

The updated vision also plans to provide a further 2,500 homes in the town centre, which will generate more than £3.2m in council tax, increase retail value by £23.5m by increased visitor time of just one hour, increase footfall in the town centre on Saturdays by a quarter through improved pedestrian areas and provide 800 new jobs in the Princes Street corridor.

David Ellesmere outside the former Hollywood Club in Ipswich.The building is going to be restored.

David Ellesmere outside the former Hollywood Club in Ipswich.The building is going to be restored. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

But one of the biggest developments will be in the tourism industry as leading figures aim to encourage visitors to Ipswich.

Analysis commissioned by Ipswich Central and carried out by development experts AECOM outlined a potential boost to Ipswich’s tourism to the tune of £40.9m per year, as well as a 20% uplift in day visits, 10% in expenditure on day visits, and a further £7.1m projected from a 10% increase in overnight stays.

In light of the figures, a Destination Management Organisation (DMO) has been established, which is nationally recognised by the Government and Visit England, and will help tourism firms and projects attract much needed funding to make those plans a reality.

Mr Baxter said: “It’s about bringing more people to this town, even people who in the past would say ‘why would I go to Ipswich for a long break?’ It is a springboard to visit other parts of the county as well, and it’s an enhancement of the work we are doing with the BID’s influence.

“We are at an early stage but already we are achieving that, and aiming to get people staying longer, spending more money and people returning more often.”

The new-look Ipswich Central Street Rangers

The new-look Ipswich Central Street Rangers - Credit: Archant

The All About Ipswich website has been relaunched to tie in with the plans, and will now feature an expanded events calendar, an online high street for people to see what is on offer and business profiles for independent firms.

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere said: “Ipswich Central play a huge role in the development of the town and we cannot imagine what it would be like without the rangers now. They are a key part of the Ipswich Vision, and we heard today about how Ipswich is moving forward. We have considered this carefully as we do every bid and [will] be voting to continue the BID process.”

While a raft of measures have already been announced, a host of potential developments – both feasible and more ambitious – were also suggested by Mr Baxter.

Among those were the installation of a permanent big screen, return of a traditional Christmas tree, a skyline restaurant on the Waterfront, a signature cultural event, a bid to make Ipswich a city of culture, turning Museum Street into high-end homes and a cable car across the wet dock.

Mr Baxter added: “Many of these may all remain as pipe dreams but why should they? Isn’t it the responsibility of us all to push it as far and wide as we are able? Let’s restore civic pride and create a moan-free zone.”

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement speaking at the Business Improvement District (BID) con

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement speaking at the Business Improvement District (BID) conference - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement said to the conference: “This vision is really, really making a difference.

“Look around you, look at the amount of cranes and the amount of buildings being developed.

“It’s about momentum, it’s about transformation, it’s about giving the community a unique sense of identity.”