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New homes, hotels and restaurants for Ipswich's riverside at Grafton Way

PUBLISHED: 06:47 30 January 2017 | UPDATED: 18:47 02 February 2017

Proposed development of land next to Grafton Way, Ipswich.

Proposed development of land next to Grafton Way, Ipswich.

One of the largest development sites in central Ipswich has been sold - and could be used for scores of new homes as well as a hotel and restaurants.

The site on Grafton Way had been proposed as a location for a new Tesco superstore.

That scheme was controversially given planning permission six years ago – but was never developed after Tesco suffered during the economic slump.

Now it has been sold by Tesco’s development arm Spenhill to developers Plutus Estates who are preparing to unveil their vision for the site later this week.

Update - see how new homes planned for the site could look

No new planning application has yet been lodged with the borough council, but they have been involved in preliminary discussions with planning officials.

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council (IBC), said the Tesco proposed development had “dragged on” but believes the new scheme will further increase confidence and investment opportunities in the area.

He said: “Labour councillors will always a lot more in favour of the proposal for the housing and hotel/restaurant. We were never keen on the Tesco proposed development. We felt that would have done huge damage to the town centre. This is much more in keeping with the area. We are very pleased.

“There is a lot of investment going on in Ipswich at the moment – the Buttermarket and Sailmakers. It is a really positive sign and hopefully we will keep that momentum.”

Plans for the site are due to be exhibited at the Novotel in Ipswich on Thursday between 4pm and 7.30pm.

A spokeswoman for Plutus Estates said: “We’re looking forward to meeting local people about our ideas for Grafton Way next week.

“We are bringing forward a proposal that we strongly believe will have a hugely beneficial effect on this site and its surroundings, and make a major contribution towards the ongoing regeneration of Ipswich.

“We are keen to hear what local people think about our ideas and, wherever possible, we will incorporate feedback into our designs.”

IBC’s local plan says the site should be used for a residential-led mixed use development. Plutus Estates acquired the site in autumn 2016.

The planning application is expected to be submitted later in the year.

The substantial site extends from the skate park near Stoke Bridge to the Princes Street bridge – and includes the former rail freight yard and the site of the former B&Q store.

An Ipswich council spokesman confirmed talks had been taking place and said: “This is a welcome opportunity to hear more about this mixed scheme to develop a key site between the Waterfront, town centre and railway station and we look forward to receiving a planning application in the near future.”

The news comes amid a major drive to transform the town centre by attracting major new investment and pushing ahead with other projects designed to improve tourism, enterprise, education and innovation in Ipswich.

The Ipswich Vision, drawn up by Ipswich Central, was launched in summer 2015 and backed by the seven groups responsible for the development of Ipswich.

A five-year, 21-point programme was unveiled and included the regeneration of the Cornhill, completing the Princes Street “office corridor redevelopment”, building at least 2,000 homes in the town centre area, presenting a funding proposal for a Wet Dock Crossing to the government, and other projects around the Waterfront and town centre.

The Ipswich Vision has also overseen the £35m acclaimed overhaul of the Buttermarket, which now has a variety of restaurants, bars and shops, as well as Empire Cinema opening on March 31. Tower Ramparts shopping centre has been reignited as Sailmakers, launching with new shops.

A new multi-storey car park in Crown Street is due to be built by Christmas 2017.

Speaking last year, Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter said: “I think everyone involved in the Vision has been impressed by how much has happened.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer added: “There is a real buzz about the town.”

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