Ipswich: Multi-million-pound programmes agreed to revitalise Suffolk town
Several multi-million-pound programmes aiming to revitalise Ipswich have been agreed by councillors.
Three different projects appeared before Ipswich’s executive last night and were agreed to unanimously.
Put together, the projects work out at just over £13m and stem from the Government’s £25m Towns Fund awarded to the borough.
Cllr Neil MacDonald, the council’s leader, said: “I’m delighted with this — it’s really important to improve the town centre and, certainly, when I go knocking on doors, people bring it up quite often.
“Only by revitalising our town centre will we attract investors, create economic growth, and make our town attractive both for residents and for visitors.”
The first project councillors considered includes a £7.96m investment acting as ‘a catalyst to development’ focusing on ‘underutilised and dilapidated buildings, deteriorating shop frontages, and high vacancy rates’.
The money will be separated into three different strands broken down as follows:
Grants offered to property owners and developers where planning permission was granted but delivery is stalled.
Council-led projects to develop existing assets or to acquire and develop new ones.
A ringfenced £800,000 for innovative projects.
Money originating from this scheme will then be recycled back into it for further investment in other projects.
Cllr Ian Fisher, who leads the opposition, labelled this project as having ‘the most regenerative effect for Ipswich’.
He added: “This is really a golden opportunity for us to make our town better and somewhere we can all be proud to live.
“There’s no reason why everybody in Ipswich can’t benefit from this because we all want to see we all want to see a vibrant community in the areas we live in.”
In the same vein, councillors also approved a further £2.8m investment to improve local shopping parades to ‘help them return to their former vibrancy’.
Similarly to the council’s first project, this investment will also be broken down threefold:
A £1.5m investment into larger parades scattered across the borough.
A further £1m dedicated to smaller shopping parades.
Capital investment worth £300,000 to be used to improve community facilities close to these parades to drive footfall.
Cllr MacDonald continued: “We’re trying to bring in new ideas — hospitality, pubs, clubs, cafes, restaurants, bars, entertainment, things that people have to come to a shop for to have to come to the town centre for all things that they can get off Amazon.”‘
A big focus of this investment is to not only bring people to Ipswich but to ensure smaller businesses across the borough are also supported.
Cllr Fisher added: “Of course, we all want to see the town centre doing well, but as much of this was about working in the community.
“Every resident in Ipswich lives within 5 minutes walk of one of the parades of shops — this is one of the things that could actually benefit everybody in Ipswich.”
The last project, labelled Digital Ipswich, will use technology to ‘improve accessibility and connectivity’.
The £2.34m investment will see several digital aspects being added to the town, including augmented reality trails, digital information screens, and a complete revamping of the All About Ipswich website.
Despite being the smaller of the three in terms of investment, councillors believe this scheme will act as the backbone and help support the other projects.
Cllr MacDonald said: “I hope the people of Ipswich will realise that we have a bit of money that we want to spend wisely.
“We want to spend it to improve the town centre so that they can come and feel welcome, safe, and entertained.”