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Talks continue on future of Civic Centre

PUBLISHED: 21:04 11 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:54 02 March 2010

WHILE Ipswich's Mint Quarter has leapt back on the agenda, at the other end of the town centre negotiations over the Civic Centre's future continue.

Waitrose remains favourite to be the main store on this site – with a large version of the up-market supermarket set to come to town.

WHILE Ipswich's Mint Quarter has leapt back on the agenda, at the other end of the town centre negotiations over the Civic Centre's future continue.

Waitrose remains favourite to be the main store on this site - with a large version of the up-market supermarket set to come to town.

The company, part of the John Lewis Partnership, is set to open a Waitrose Food and Home store on the site.

This would include the full Waitrose grocery range alongside home and leisure lines from the John Lewis department store range.

The company does not believe Ipswich is large enough to support a full John Lewis department store.

The Civic Centre site would also have many other stores, including some opening up on to Westgate Street giving them a direct frontage on to the town's main shopping area.

It would be a large site and would have to be developed in several phases - not least because one of the current occupiers is likely to remain there for several more years.

Ipswich police station is set to move from its current location in Elm Street - but not for at least three years.

Chief Superintendent Geoff Munns, head of Ipswich police, said it was accepted that the police would be moving from their current site, but a new location had not yet been identified.

He said: "We are still looking for a site and then there will be some negotiations. Obviously we will need to be in the right location, but I think we are looking to be here for another three to five years."

Ipswich council has said that the police will have a town centre presence in the new customer service offices it is building in the Town Hall.

Mr Munns said: "We have some temporary arrangements that are being brought in for the current police station because we do rely on Civic Centre for some of our services.

"And because we will still be here for some time after the council has gone, we appreciate that the redevelopment of the site will have to take place in phases but I don't think that should be a major problem."

Who will own the Civic Centre site is still up for negotiation. The Evening Star understands that the John Lewis Partnership is keen to own the freehold of the site and build other units for stores, which would rent them from it.

However it may be that the council can get the best price for the land from a developer who then builds the Waitrose Food and Home store for the John Lewis Partnership - along with other retail units.

The total cost of the Civic Centre site redevelopment has not been revealed - but independent experts have put its value at considerably more than £300 million, meaning that the total value of the new developments in Ipswich town centre is well over half a billion pounds.


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