Arras Square 'needs more than repaving': Ipswich Central boss
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Ipswich council has been urged to make Arras Square one of the focal points of the town centre after plans to turn St Stephens Church into a music venue and community cafe were unveiled.
Ipswich Central chair Paul Clement said what the area needed was "more than a straightforward repaving job" if it is to reach its full potential and become a real success.
He said: "The news about St Stephens church is fantastic. It shows real vision and I am delighted the borough is a partner in this proposal - it's a real statement of intent.
"But that needs to be followed through if the area is to reach its full potential. You also have the Buttermarket area there, the former BHS will soon be reopening and there are other businesses around there.
"Arras Square could be a really exciting place but it needs more than a straightforward repaving job. I want the council to show the ambition to do something really special there."
Ipswich council is planning to repave Arras Square as one of the projects to be financed by the Towns Fund grant - but an exact plan of work has not yet been agreed.
St Stephen's Church - which was the town's Tourist Information Centre until the first lockdown two years ago - looks set to become a new music venue and cafe from the beginning of next year if the proposal gets the go-ahead from the borough's executive committee next week.
It will be run by a new Community Interest Company formed by the team behind Out Loud music which used it as a pop-up venue during last October's Sound City Festival.
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Another development about to start is the fitting out of the former BHS store which has been bought by Mike Ashley's Frasers Group.
Final work to prepare the store could start later this month and it is expected to open to the public in the middle of the year. It will include a new Sports Direct Store alongside other Frasers brands including Flannels, USC and possibly Jack Wills and Game.
And with restaurants also at the Arras Square entrance to the Buttermarket Centre, Mr Clement said the need to create an attractive centrepiece for that part of the town centre was clear.