Warning over town's development

CURRENT problems with the economy are likely to make it more difficult for three major developments in Ipswich to attract tenants, a leading town figure warned today.

CURRENT problems with the economy are likely to make it more difficult for three major developments in Ipswich to attract tenants, a leading town figure warned today.

Developers behind the £230million Mint Quarter scheme and the Civic Centre redevelopment are currently in talks with possible tenants.

Meanwhile the managers of Tower Ramparts are in discussion with a prominent retailer about taking over the former Littlewoods store.

Paul Clement, head of Ipswich Central, said it will be a “shot in the arm” for Ipswich should any of the developments make significant progress in the near future.

However he warned that the current economic climate makes this less likely.

He said: “The economic climate is not as good as it was a year ago and that is bound to bring some pressure to bear, not just in retail terms.

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“At the end of the day we know it is not as easy as an individual to get a mortgage as it was just three months ago.

“Convincing retailers to take space in any town is not as easy as it was three months ago. The task is definitely more difficult.”

Mr Clement said the positive thing is that each of the sites is owned outright by the developers and each of them are in discussion with retailers regarding the developments.

He said should any, or all, of the schemes come off it will provide a big boost for Ipswich. “At Tower Ramparts there are talks about a replacement for Littlewoods.

“If such a replacement could be found it would probably lead to some revitalisation of the centre and possibly some capital expenditure on the scheme which would raise that up a gear.”

Meanwhile getting big name retailers to sign up as anchor tenants of either the Mint Quarter of Civic Centre schemes would create the potential to attract more shoppers from outside the area to the town, he said.

However Mr Clement also stressed the importance of Ipswich not resting on its laurels while waiting for the new developments to come to fruition.

He said: “It is very easy to put other things on hold sometimes because you think there's a new development around the corner.

“Right here and now we have a town centre that requires management and investment.”

Are you confident the developments will go ahead? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk