Uncertainty blights quirky street
UNCERTAINTY over the future of the Mint Quarter is destroying one of the most important shopping streets in Ipswich.That's the message today from the Ipswich Society, the town's civic society, which has warned of blight in two of the town's main shopping streets.
By Paul Geater
UNCERTAINTY over the future of the Mint Quarter is destroying one of the most important shopping streets in Ipswich.
That's the message today from the Ipswich Society, the town's civic society, which has warned of blight in two of the town's main shopping streets.
Upper Orwell Street has fallen into "a vicious circle of decrepitude," according to a letter from the Society to Ipswich council planners.
Most of the shops are owned by NCP, which owns the two car parks in Tacket Street and Cox Lane and which is behind the Mint Quarter proposal with developers Helical Retail.
As shops have become empty, new tenants have not come forward to take over short-term leases – which has added to the spiral of decline.
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The Society has offered to do anything it can to help the council improve the street – and is calling for immediate action to be taken.
However the proposals for the Mint Quarter have been thrown into confusion after Woolworths said it was not prepared to move out of its current building to a new store as part of the development.
NCP owns the Woolworths building, and Helical Retail has warned that the retailer could be given six months' notice to quit if it does not sign up.
But this row has led to an impasse – and raised the prospect that the Mint Quarter may never be built.
Meanwhile the Ipswich Society has also raised concerns about the number of empty shops and showrooms along Norwich Road and St Matthews' Street.
It says there are a number of empty units, and is especially concerned about the future of the former Revetts' motorcycle showroom.
However there are positive moves along the street, especially the new extension to Coes and the arrival of the Mulberry and Grace store which is helping to attract new business to the area.