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Multi-million pound retail plan unveiled

PUBLISHED: 22:54 10 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:54 02 March 2010

IPSWICH is on the brink of a retail explosion – with more than half a billion pounds worth of investment heading towards the town centre.

The new retail growth should kick-start the town's leap into the 21st century on the back of the waterfront and university developments.

IPSWICH is on the brink of a retail explosion – with more than half a billion pounds worth of investment heading towards the town centre.

The new retail growth should kick-start the town's leap into the 21st century on the back of the waterfront and university developments.

Today a new deal to kick start the development of the long-delayed Mint Quarter of the town centre was being unveiled.

Landowner NCP has signed a partnership agreement with developer Shearer Properties Ltd to build a new shopping centre on the land between Upper Brook Street and Upper Orwell Street.

The £200million development would include a large new multi-storey car park to be run by NCP and a new shopping centre.

This follows the news, revealed in The Evening Star last year, that Waitrose is set to be the centrepiece of a £300million retail development on the site of the Civic Centre in Ipswich.

Shearer Property Group has already had considerable experience in building shopping centres in southern England.

Company managing director Guy Shearer said: "Ipswich is a great town which is entering a period of renaissance.

"It needs a major new shopping centre to lift its status to that of a regional centre – our proposals will do just that."

Ipswich council's head of planning and development Mike Smith confirmed that his department had been in discussions with Shearer.

"Certainly this is the kind of development we are looking for on that site. We would be looking for a mixed development – but one that is very much retail-led.

"It will take about six months for an outline plan for the site to come to the council and then several more months for the details to be sorted out.

"Shearer are hoping that work could start in 2007 – that sounds a feasible timescale," he said.

Mr Smith said Shearer Property Group was well-known retail developer – it has been behind new developments at Newbury in Berkshire, Bath, and Exeter among other towns and cities.

This appears to be the ideal time for the Mint Quarter to go ahead – it is the natural bridge between the Waterfront and the existing town centre and it is also near the new University area.

If the development timetable goes as Shearer Property Group hopes, it would be nearing completion just as the first new university buildings are being occupied and the new Suffolk College building is finished.

These developments together would give the eastern side of Ipswich a major boost.

The news that the Mint Quarter had a new development partner was given a cautious welcome by Paul Clement from the Ipswich Partnership.

He said: "While I am pleased to hear that there is a new development partner for this very important site, I do feel that we have heard this all before.

"I will be a lot happier when I actually see the names of retailers who have signed up for the development and start to see some work starting on the project."

But he did feel that the time was right for the development of the site.

"The Mint Quarter is very near the Waterfront and the new university site. Now is the time to really exploit its potential.

"Ipswich desperately needs some retail investment – and this is just the kind of opportunity to be exploited."

NCP Chief Executive Bob Macnaughton said: "We are pleased to have selected an experienced development partner whose proposals were very much in line with NCP's aspirations for the site.

"If we can achieve what we want to with this site, it will be a key building block linking the town centre with the Waterfront which fits in with Ipswich Council's vision for regeneration."


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