Town can rise above the gloom

NATIONALLY, and indeed internationally, there have been some pretty miserable economic predictions about 2012 – many people are expecting the year to be one long slog and most believe the country could slide back into recession.

But the more I look at economic activity and the more I look at what is in the pipeline for this year, the more optimistic I become that Ipswich could actually buck the economic miseries of 2012 and see a real improvement this year.

Things will change. And nowhere will that change be greater than in the town centre – but if you look at the town as a whole I can’t help feeling that 2012 could well be the start of a real re-birth.

There is a tremendous amount of investment already in the pipeline for the town centre with the Little Waitrose due to open in the ground floor of the Corn Exchange next month and work on the long-awaited new Tesco superstore due to start in the spring.

The new owners of Tower Ramparts have a fine record in the retail industry – and have already said they are planning to revamp the centre.

I know it is not in the town centre, but the new John Lewis At Home/Waitrose superstore which is going to be built on Ransomes Way over the next few months will make the town much more attractive to people looking to move to the area.

There are also real hopes that we could see work re-starting on stalled Waterfront projects like Regatta Quay and The Mill after Ipswich MP Ben Gummer brought administrators and the Irish National Asset Management Authority (NAMA) together to try to get things moving.

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And with preparation work progressing on The Link site – home of The Evening Star and our sister paper the East Anglian Daily Times – and the nearby St Peter’s Port site, the shift of the axis of the town centre from east/west to north/south could really start.

All in all, the next year could be more than promising for the future of Ipswich.