Town centre revamp hits brick wall

MOVES to improve the appearance of Stowmarket's town centre have hit a brick wall - because the traders are not interested.A scheme has been launched to improve the image of town centre shop fronts in order to spruce up the area and to attract visitors.

MOVES to improve the appearance of Stowmarket's town centre have hit a brick wall - because the traders are not interested.

A scheme has been launched to improve the image of town centre shop fronts in order to spruce up the area and to attract visitors.

Funding of up to 75 per cent of the cost has been made available, through the Heritage and Environment Regeneration Scheme, but no businesses have expressed an interest.

David Benham, regeneration manager of Mid Suffolk District Council, said: "The uptake on the scheme has been very poor. Typically, to replace a shop front would cost between £7,000 and £10,000 so we're not talking large sums of money. It's been disappointing so far."

The project is part of an ambitious action plan to regenerate the town and it had been hoped the improvements to the shop frontages, through the English Heritage-backed scheme, would bolster this.

"We've got ideas and proposals for a long-term initiative of improvement in Stowmarket and this is central to that, said Mr Benham.

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"People can make a big difference but it needs one or two to take hold of it and take it on. The message is take advantage of it, because it won't be there forever."

A leaflet drop has been made to town centre shops alerting them of the possibilities of the enterprise and another is being planned.

Mr Benham added: "There's a lot of shop fronts along Ipswich Street that could be improved and could be better.

"If you look at the buildings themselves they are not bad but a bit of effort would make them much more attractive."

For more information about the scheme, contact Patrick Taylor at Mid Suffolk district council, on 01449 727298 or write to him at 131 High Street, Needham Market, IP6 8DL.

N What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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