Shops remain vacant despite interest

IPSWICH'S Tower Ramparts shopping complex is no nearer to solving its empty shops crisis even though spenders are hitting the streets looking for Christmas bargains.

IPSWICH'S Tower Ramparts shopping complex is no nearer to solving its empty shops crisis even though spenders are hitting the streets looking for Christmas bargains.

Twelve of the 35 retail units in the town centre arcade are empty but the company which owns it said it didn't have any businesses lined up to fill them.

Tower Ramparts, built 21 years ago, is managed by Cushman and Wakefield, a London real estate firm, who said they were not close to letting the empty units, many of which are at the far end of the building.

It comes after The Evening Star revealed there were 100 empty shop units in the centre of the town, and launched the 'We're Backing Ipswich' campaign to help revive retail areas which have been neglected.

But there is hope for town centre bosses who want to increase prosperity, as new figures show there were more than 1,400 inquiries about letting commercial properties in a three month period.

Businesses and budding entrepreneurs made 1,420 inquiries about units in the town centre in July, August and September.

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Richard Atkins, Ipswich borough council planning and economic development portfolio holder, said the number had risen compared to last year and it showed the town was becoming more popular, despite the empty retail units.

“We also have 25 per cent more shops here than we did five years ago. It shows more people want to come shopping in Ipswich.”

Liberal Democrat Mr Atkins said the council would work with IP-City, the town centre management company, which wants to regenerate Ipswich.

And he said that although some units in Tower Ramparts were empty, business may still be paying rent on them because they are tied into longer-term contracts, so there is little incentive for the complex owners to recruit new companies to fill the premises.

He also said that it would be easier to attract businesses to the town if they could get long leases on retail units.

Ipswich has Business Improvement District (BID) status and more than 100 firms have signed up as members of the Ipswich Partnership.

The BID will help improve the areas which have several empty, boarded-up shops.

The Star launched its campaign after carrying out the empty shops survey in September.

Cushman and Wakefield would not comment further while Tower Ramparts declined to comment.

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