Move to create community on Waterfront

CIVIC leaders in Ipswich are growing increasingly concerned about the lack of community spirit among the new residents of Waterfront flats.The vision of the Waterfront was of owner-occupied flats and houses with people building a new community and sharing a stake in the historic town.

CIVIC leaders in Ipswich are growing increasingly concerned about the lack of community spirit among the new residents of Waterfront flats.

The vision of the Waterfront was of owner-occupied flats and houses with people building a new community and sharing a stake in the historic town.

However the reality is very different.

The overwhelming majority of flats that have been built in the Waterfront area have been sold as investments to individuals or companies who rent them out to tenants.

Many of these are on short-term leases for people who are only working in the area for a limited time and have little interest in the town.

And many of the flats that have been bought are seen as second homes for people who need a bed in the town once or twice a week.

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Ipswich council leader Liz Harsant said she and her colleagues were anxious to find ways of creating a community around the Waterfront.

She said: “When we were campaigning in the area during the spring we found that most people we could find there were not expecting to stay very long.

“Those who were on the electoral register - and most had not been here when the register was drawn up - felt no connection with the town and were therefore not going to vote.”

Mrs Harsant was concerned that people who only saw their flat as a temporary home would not help to improve Ipswich as a community.

She said: “We really want people to use the town and the businesses and services here. We want them to go to the restaurants and pubs in the area, to do their shopping in the town and to generally feel part of the community.

“We still hope in the future that will happen - and we are looking at ways of developing that. But at the moment there are too many people who do not feel a link with the town.”

About 80 per cent of the flats in the Waterfront area have been sold as investments rather than to owner-occupiers. The majority of owners are from London and the south east of England rather than locally-based landlords.

Paul West, who runs one of the largest property management companies in Ipswich, manages few properties in the Waterfront area.

He said: “That is a different market to the rest of the town, and really is quite separate from the rest of Ipswich.”

n. Do you think there is a lack of community in the Waterfront area? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk