Multi-million boost for town centre

IPSWICH's proposed new Olympic-sized swimming pool is the cornerstone of a £100 million redevelopment of the town centre, The Evening Star can reveal today.

IPSWICH's proposed new Olympic-sized swimming pool is the cornerstone of a £100 million redevelopment of the town centre, The Evening Star can reveal today.

Borough council chiefs believe the move could kick-start the town's regeneration as a regional centre, ultimately leading Ipswich to become a rival to Norwich in the retailing stakes.

The 50-metre pool itself would cost an estimated £14 million, and would be part of a major redevelopment of the Portman Road car park, together with a new hotel, a multi-storey car park, shops and offices.

And the new pool there would clear the way for the wholesale redevelopment of Crown Street, including the existing swimming pool and the town's largest existing multi-storey car park.

Ipswich council chief executive James Hehir said: “When you put together the Portman Road site and the Crown Street area you will be looking at redevelopment totalling in the region of £100 million and that will give the town a fantastic boost - and that doesn't include the Civic Site off Westgate Street.

“There will be new car parks in Portman Road and a replacement for the Crown car park in that area as part of an overall redevelopment of the area.”

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Mr Hehir understood that some people could be sceptical about the developments because of the delays in other major projects - most notably the Mint Quarter which has been on the drawing board since 1992.

He said: “The difference with this scheme is that all the land is in the ownership of the borough and there is no minority landowner able to stall things. We will be pushing ahead with these projects as soon as possible.”

And he accepted they were necessary for the long-term viability of the town centre.

He said: “These are very exciting times for Ipswich with all the residential development going on at present, the leisure developments and especially the Waterfront regeneration.

“The one area of Ipswich that does need a bit of a boost is its retailing heart - and hopefully these developments will give that a kick start and really give the town a boost.

“Don't forget we are already well ahead of Colchester in the retailing league table. Norwich is well ahead - but once we've got the university and the Waterfront developed we should be able to really challenge them.”

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