Sale hope for Ipswich site

MINT Quarter owner NCP would be prepared to sell its valuable town centre land – if the price was right and it was allowed to run any car parks built there.

MINT Quarter owner NCP would be prepared to sell its valuable town centre land - if the price was right and it was allowed to run any car parks built there.

The Evening Star can today reveal that bosses at the company have accepted that they are not best qualified to develop the site on their own.

And while they have not hoisted a "for sale" notice over the Mint Quarter, a spokesman confirmed they would be prepared to listen to offers.

"At the end of the day NCP is a company which runs car parks. It is not a property development company," a spokesman told the Star.

"If someone else felt they could get work on the Mint Quarter up and running and was prepared to pay the right price for the site, NCP would not stand in the way."

However the company would want to run any car parking included in a new development on the site.

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"There would inevitably be quite a large car park - or car parks - included in any scheme for the Mint Quarter and certainly NCP would seek a contract to run that car parking in any redevelopment of the Mint Quarter," he said.

NCP is not prepared to discuss figures - but a large town centre site which has been allocated for retail development by the borough council should be worth many millions of pounds.

NCP had a deal with developers Helical Retail to build the Mint Quarter, but they had not been able to sign up enough stores to make it viable.

By the end of last year NCP was looking for a new development partner.

The uncertainty over the future of the Mint Quarter is directly responsible for the rundown appearance of Upper Orwell Street on one side of the proposed development.

NCP owns the freehold of the properties, but is unwilling to offer long-term deals to tenants because it doesn't want redevelopment to be delayed if work can get underway.

The Mint Quarter is at the eastern end of the town centre which is currently being given a boost by a major refurbishment of the Ipswich and Norwich Co-op's department store.

And the area is also a key link between the town's waterfront area, the town centre, and the entertainment area centred around the Odeon cinema and the Regent Theatre.

It will also be the town centre gateway from the town's university area and the new development on the county hall site.

The biggest challenge for any new developer will be to persuade Woolworths to leave the store they have occupied since the late 1960s to move into one of the largest units of any new development.

Woolworths' building is owned by NCP as part of the Mint Quarter and would have to be a key element in the redevelopment of the site as a whole.

nShould NCP sell the Mint Quarter site? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

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