Leisure development hope for ailing Ipswich retail park as B&Q prepares for to shut up shop
A struggling retail area on the outskirts of Ipswich could get a leisure-based rebirth, it has emerged.
A multi-national company which runs popular indoor activities is considering taking over empty units on the Anglia Retail Park, in Bury Road, when the huge B&Q superstore closes its doors later this year.
It would be the signal for a multi-million pound rebirth of a retail centre that has struggled to attract tenants over the years.
The Comet store closed when the chain collapsed at the end of 2012 and there are other units empty at the retail park which is opposite the town’s largest Asda store.
The leisure company involved in the proposals would bring a new form of entertainment to the town – and bosses from the company outlined their plans to councillors at a behind-closed-doors meeting this week.
Ipswich Borough Council portfolio holder for planning Carole Jones described the news of a possible redevelopment at the Anglia Retail Park as “very exciting”.
She added: “This is very good news for the whole town, it would bring a new use to a retail park that is facing an uncertain future and new leisure facilities to the town.”
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Full commercial details of the proposed deal are still to be worked out and a change of use for the retail units would need to be agreed with the council’s planners.
But that is not expected to be a major hurdle – planning officers are already in discussions with the company and are understood to see the benefits of the proposal.
The change of use would be the second major development in Ipswich to be converted from retail to leisure use.
The Buttermarket Centre is currently in the middle of a major conversion scheme which will see a 12-screen Empire cinema carved out of what was previously its main department store at the centrepiece of a £35million development.