Suffolk town looks to the future
STOWMARKET town centre has been earmarked for a pioneering project to establish it as a centre for local produce and fair trade. A blueprint on the future of the town centre, carried out by the Civic Trust, has called for a radical overhaul of current facilities in order to attract new visitors and business.
STOWMARKET town centre has been earmarked for a pioneering project to establish it as a centre for local produce and fair trade.
A blueprint on the future of the town centre, carried out by the Civic Trust, has called for a radical overhaul of current facilities in order to attract new visitors and business.
It has called for a shift away from "poor quality, low value retailing" to a town centre with more "unique" shops.
The author of the report, David Benham, said: "We view Stowmarket as being like a village shop stuck between two supermarkets – Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds.
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"Stowmarket will never be able to compete on the same terms as these two but it can benefit from being unique.
"If Stowmarket can get a reputation for using local products and being a centre for fair trade, where producers get a fair cut of the profits, then it can be successful."
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The report, which examined all aspects of the town centre, has also identified the need for certain buildings to undergo a facelift.
The Regal Cinema and Corn Exchange have both been labelled as in need of refurbishment and plans are being formulated to undertake this.
Mr Benham said: "If we want to attract people into the town, especially in the evenings, then the whole package has to be right."
Richard Wallis, chairman of the Stowmarket Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the report.
He said: "We have got a core of good shops but we want to go on from here. This is a crucial time for Stowmarket and we are working with Mid Suffolk district council and the town council to make sure Stowmarket moves forward.
"You have only got to look around us – we're getting more and more people moving into the town and we've got to provide for them if we are going to survive."
The report is due to be discussed at a meeting of Mid Suffolk district council on January 7.