Marks and Spencer set for new £50m centre

RETAIL giants Marks and Spencer are today believed to be in advanced negotiations to become the anchor store at Ipswich's £50million Civic Centre complex.

RETAIL giants Marks and Spencer are today believed to be in advanced negotiations to become the anchor store at Ipswich's £50million Civic Centre complex.

It is understood the high street giants are considering committing to the Westgate Centre, on the site of the former borough council offices, in a move that would leave a huge question mark hanging over the future of their Westgate Street store.

Developers Turnstone Estates told The Evening Star they are in negotiations Marks and Spencer, as well as several other retailers about taking up a major unit in the scheme.

As well as a huge anchor store, the Westgate Centre is also likely to include restaurants, bars and other leisure facilities.

Turnstone submitted an application for the development earlier this month and hope to start construction in 2009 or 2010.

Waitrose were for a long time seen as favourites to redevelop the site and at one stage it was suggested that John Lewis' property arm might buy the entire site and build shops for other retailers as well as a Waitrose store.

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Turnstone has been involved in a number of large developments in the past including sites in Cambridge, Chelmsford, Kings Lynn and London.

A spokesperson for Marks and Spencer said: “While we are constantly looking for new sites for stores we don't have any plans to take any site in Ipswich.”

However that denial has not quelled the speculation surrounding the retailing giants - with several leading figures in the town confirming to the Star that Marks and Spencer are preparing to move into the Westgate Centre.

While such a move would throw a question mark over the existing store, in many cities the company has two stores near each other - selling different ranges.

In Cambridge a newly-opened store in the city centre sells food and menswear while the longer-established store nearby sells womenswear and children's clothes.

WORK to transform Ipswich's Civic Centre site into a bustling shopping complex well and truly under way after demolition started in May.

On a daily basis people can witness first hand the demolition of one of Ipswich's landmark buildings with work expected to be completed next month.

The work is being carried out by Woodbridge-based firm CDC Demolition.