Multi-million pound boost to help transform Ipswich town centre

The Buttermarket Shopping Centre has boarded up shops and an escalator as part of improvements.

The Buttermarket Shopping Centre has boarded up shops and an escalator as part of improvements. - Credit: Su Anderson

After years of seeming to be stuck in the doldrums, Ipswich town centre is finally seeing the first stage of a massive revival as many millions of pounds of investment floods into the town.

At least £25million is currently pouring into new developments in and around the town centre – and millions more are expected to be on the way over the next few years.

The most dramatic changes under way at present are to the two shopping centres in the heart of Ipswich.

Conversion of the Tower Ramparts Centre into Sailmakers is now moving on rapidly.

But that work is dwarfed by that at the Buttermarket Centre where contractors have started the 18-month programme to convert part of it into a 16-screen cinema and gym and create a number of family restaurants.

Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter said: “I can’t remember a time in Ipswich history where there has been such a variety of construction work going on at one time.

“Following the north to south route through the town from Electric House, through Tower Ramparts, which is beginning its conversion in to Sailmakers, via the Walk, through the Buttermarket Shopping Centre, via the renovation of the church on the one way system and ending at the ‘wine rack’ on the waterfront – you can’t move for work being carried out and that’s a great thing for the town.

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“The people of Ipswich and those visiting can really see change happening right in from of their eyes. It’s a really exciting time for the town and I can’t wait to see the results when its all complete.”

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere, who has taken on responsibility for the town centre, said the developments were hugely significant.

He said: “This is a real vote of confidence in Ipswich town centre. Businesses are now realising this is a town with real potential and they are keen to be part of that.

“And don’t forget there are other things happening as well. The Crown Street multi-storey car park is going to be rebuilt. The demolition of the old police station is about to take place. And the borough has completed the purchase of the derelict buildings next to Dance East.”

And Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said it was vital that the town continued to take advantage of the current economic recovery to press ahead with its town centre development.

He said: “The next five years are going to be critical because unless we use this economic recovery we could miss out on the chance to really change the outlook of the town.

“While £25m is a good start, we need to look at attracting 10 times that investment to really give the town the boost it deserves.”