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'Vision for Prosperity' initative to transform Stowmarket gets the green light

Ambitious plans to transform Stowmarket have been revealed as part of a bold new vision for the town’s future.

General view of Stowmarket - Market Place.... PICTURE: Mecha Morton. .. (2396503)
General view of Stowmarket - Market Place.... PICTURE: Mecha Morton. .. (2396503)

Work on the Vision for Prosperity has been in the pipeline following a public consultation in October and aims to improve all areas of the town to help improve the economy, community and cultural offering.

Extended free Wi-Fi in the town centre, enhancements to public areas with sculptures and art, an upgrade to the Cedars Hotel by Best Western Group, a new drive-through Costa and McDonalds are among the measures included.

Other initiatives include creating a technology hub, a £350,000 shop front and access improvement project, a new building for Stowmarket High School, new primary school and redevelopment of the former Needham Market and Stowmarket middle schools for housing.

Some proposals, such as a planned extension to the Regal Theatre and the No More Delays on the A14 campaign, had already been made public. But the latest details were published ahead of Monday’s Mid Suffolk District Council cabinet meeting.

The council’s report said: “The Vision for Prosperity work is intended to kick-start a resurgence in Stowmarket and its surrounding area, co-ordinating services and responding to the needs of the community.”

It added: “In short, the perception is that the town is under-performing as a retail and leisure venue.”

Cllr Gerard Brewster, cabinet member for economy, said: “Working with partners we seek to create an attractive and vibrant town centre which will support local businesses to grow, at the same time encouraging new business and leisure opportunities into the town. The Vision for Prosperity is about more than just the town centre, it is an exciting project embracing the whole of Stowmarket and the surrounding area.”

The cabinet agreed to allocate £550,000 towards the project.

Rachel Eburne, Green group leader at Mid Suffolk District Council, said: “There have been a number of Stowmarket-based plans over the years, these have delivered hundreds of houses and the facilities to back this up have been slow to materialise.”

Linda Baxter, Mayor of Stowmarket, said: “What a great time to live in Stowmarket and see all these projects come to fruition – it is only the start of some great investments and changes that will put Stowmarket on the map, ensuring it delivers its potential.”

David Blackburn, town clerk, said the council welcomed the initiative and was ‘ready and willing’ to work with local partners.