Mint Quarter moves closer

ON-OFF hopes of building a new £70 million shopping centre in the heart of Ipswich looked slightly brighter today after one of the largest stores in town said it was in talks about joining the scheme.

ON-OFF hopes of building a new £70 million shopping centre in the heart of Ipswich looked slightly brighter today after one of the largest stores in town said it was in talks about joining the scheme.

As revealed by The Evening Star in July, plans to build the Mint Quarter between Tacket Street and Carr Street were becalmed after Woolworths said it was not interested in taking part.

However now the retail giant said it is in talks with developers Helical Retail – although there was still no guarantee it would agree to joining the scheme.

"It is far too early for us to say whether we will take part or not, but we are talking to the developers," said a Woolworths spokeswoman.


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Earlier this year Woolworths said it was not interested in moving out of its current store under any circumstances.

However Helical pointed out that Woolworths does not own the freehold of its store.

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The entire site of the Mint Quarter, including Woolworths, is owned by Helical's partners in the project – National Car Parks.

They could give Woolworths notice to quit – but have been unwilling to upset the business they need to take the largest single unit in the new development.

Helical now says it is preparing to submit a detailed planning application to Ipswich council next spring.

But in July they had hoped the plans would be available by Christmas and when it was first proposed in 2000 they had hoped the plans would be drawn up during 2001.

The 1.4 million square foot complex would be built on land bounded by Tacket Street, Upper Brook Street, Upper Orwell Street and Carr Street.

It includes proposals for a 695-space car park, restaurants, a health and fitness centre and retail space equivalent to more than five football pitches.

Helical says it has talked with stores about becoming "anchor" tenants in the development – but the only retailer committed to moving into the new centre is catalogue store Argos which plans to move across from its current site in Carr Street.

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