Mint Quarter delayed again

MORE than 16 years after proposals were first outlined, developers of a �250million shopping centre say it will be delayed until 2015 at the earliest following extended negotiations with anchor stores.

MORE than 16 years after proposals were first outlined, developers of a �250million shopping centre say it will be delayed until 2015 at the earliest following extended negotiations with anchor stores.

That means there will be a 23-year wait for the Mint Quarter scheme to be built - and by the time the first shops open it could well more than a quarter of a century after the ambitious scheme was first outlined.

The company behind the scheme, destined for the area between Tacket Street and Carr Street, had previously hoped to be on site with the project by 2011.

But Shearer Property Group admitted the shopping centre is still several years away after current landowners NCP applied to maintain the site as a car park for five more years.

A spokesman for Shearer Property Group, developers of the scheme, said: “We are still in negotiations with our anchor stores and until we have done that it is not going to move forward.

“I would hope to have some news by the end of the year, and to secure planning and site assembly and everything from that point would take at least three years, so we would not be on site for three to four years from then.

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“On that basis we would be looking at an opening in 2015 at the earliest, and we believe that would be a very good time to open because we will be back in a positive economic situation.”

Previous applications to maintain the land as a 260-space car park - all approved - have been for periods of two years, and the length of the fresh application is an unprecedented delay.

Shearer Property Group said their plans were still moving forward. Their spokesman said: “All of these schemes do take many years and this is no exception.

“It is a long time and it is frustrating but it is actually not that unusual, and the current economic climate has not helped speed things up.

“Obviously we want to have the best anchor stores we possibly can and we have been in discussions with them for the last few years.

“Ipswich is an exceptional town and we think that this is a very good opportunity to create a step change that will lift its profile as a shopping destination.”

The Evening Star has previously revealed Shearer Property Group is keen to sign up John Lewis for the developments 40,000 sq ft anchor store although the firm has declined to reveal details of who they are speaking to.

Are you concerned the Mint Quarter scheme may not come to fruition? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

The Mint Quarter scheme, which will comprise a department store, 50 shops and car parking for around 900 cars, has endured a series of setbacks dating back to its conception in 1992:

Proposals to build a major new shopping centre between Carr Street, Tacket Street, Upper Brook Street, and Upper Orwell Street were first unveiled on October 2, 1992 - the day after the Buttermarket Centre opened.

In 1994 there were hopes that work would start within weeks.

In 1996 there were serious doubts about whether the project would go ahead after site owner NCP confirmed it was considering building a new multi-storey car park on the site instead.

In 2000 the scheme was re-drawn and re-launched as the Mint Quarter. Developers Helical Retail said Woolworths and Argos would be the anchor stores.

2001 Kingfisher - which owned Woolworths - sold off the high street chain and the new store group announced a freeze on new developments - including its involvement in the Mint Quarter project.

2005 Shearer Property Group took over as developers from Helical Retail.

2009 Another delay is announced for the development.

The area was Christened The Mint Quarter because it is believed the Ipswich Mint was situated in the area in the Middle Ages.