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Take an exclusive look inside the Buttermarket Shopping Centre, new home for Wagamamas, Byron Burger and Empire Cinema, as extensive refurb continues

PUBLISHED: 09:49 29 June 2016 | UPDATED: 10:03 29 June 2016

Behind the scenes at the Buttermarket in Ipswich. 
Stephen Sugg

Behind the scenes at the Buttermarket in Ipswich. Stephen Sugg

Shoppers who claim Ipswich has lost a "pillar" after the Buttermarket's glass entrance was torn down will be proved wrong when they see the new shopping centre.

That is the view of one of the construction managers after the Ipswich Star was given an exclusive tour and update of the Buttermarket.

Work to transform the site started just over a year ago. The keys to the Empire Cinema unit were handed over earlier this month, allowing the chain to start fitting out. Pure Gym, Wagamamas, Coast to Coast, Byron Burger, Cosy Club and Prezzo are also set to move in.

But Steve Sugg, site manager for construction firm Simons, said: “There have been mixed comments when I have been outside taking photographs for my own project file. Some of the public have asked ‘why have you taken that screen down – it’s a pillar of what Ipswich is known for’.

“Other people have said ‘thank goodness it’s gone – it’s become an eyesore. It is so antiquated and out-of-date and it needs serious modernising’.

Behind the scenes at the Buttermarket IpswichBehind the scenes at the Buttermarket Ipswich

“So there have been mixed views about, but there are mixed views for every building project that you do.

“But I strongly think that those against it will change their opinions, once they see the Simons construction boarding come down and they get the grand unveiling with the new paving slabs, once everything is painted, new signage, full modernisation, new lighting scheme.

“The old Buttermarket will be missed. It will always stay part of their memories of Ipswich but, with the new modern theme going on here, everyone is going to benefit.

“I think it is going to regenerate this side of Ipswich town centre. There will be a lot more foot traffic and a boost to tourism. Current businesses are going to see an increase in customer flow, not just for the clubs and pubs, but also the shops in St Stephens Lane.”

Behind the scenes at the Buttermarket IpswichBehind the scenes at the Buttermarket Ipswich

He said construction work is set to finish in late July. The grand reopening should take place in December.

The gym will be open 24 hours and the cinema is set to have 12 screens and have the potential for 4K flms. There will also be two sections of outdoor seating.

Mr Sugg said: “We have taken the Buttermarket Shopping Centre from the old retail centre that it used to be into a modern day retail and leisure facility.

“The first thing people are going to see is the dramatic change to the opening now we haven’t got the old white screen. We have got a brand new system which now tucks back in to the shopping centre.

“Once you get inside, you will have the escalators taking you up to the cinema and bowling alley, the new brighter colours, the new food outlet choice and a revitalisation and regeneration of everything.

“It has been a long time and I know there is a lot of excitement now we are coming to the end of it.”

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