The Ipswich Vision brings together a large body of research carried out with local businesses, residents and those who have a stake in Ipswich’s future. And even those who do not. Information was gathered from people who live close to Ipswich but choose to spend their time elsewhere.
This short PDF gives you a very brief overview of how Ipswich Central worked with key partners to create the Vision for Ipswich
Ipswich grew from a Saxon settlement located at the strategic point where the River Gipping changes from a bridgeable watercourse into the wide estuary known as the River Orwell.
This riverside location defined the purpose of the settlement for many centuries providing trading links inland by small craft and international trade by sea. Associated industries such as shipbuilding and food processing evolved along the river frontage.
However, from Tudor times up to the present, the commercial core of the town has shifted to the present concentration within a narrow corridor aligned east-west running parallel with the river but some 500m to the north of it.
The area separating the river and the town centre became largely dominated by transport infrastructure and mixed commerce.
In the late twentieth century port related activity around the riverside, particularly the Victorian wet dock, declined both in its importance to the economy of the town and in competitiveness against rival centres leading to business closures and widespread dereliction.
This decline has been halted and in the last decade the area has been transformed by the investment of tens of millions of pounds of public and private sector funds in a marina surrounded by a new University campus, flats, hotels, restaurants and a Dance Theatre. The area now known as the Waterfront is recognised as one of the
The town therefore suffers more than most in the recession because it lacks the attraction to shoppers of a new shopping location and lacks the ability to attract new quality retailers as the existing properties are ageing, too small and of poor layout. This absence is in stark contrast to Norwich and Cambridge which dominate the regional hierarchy aided by the large new shopping centres Chapelfields and Grand Arcade. Even smaller Suffolk rival, Bury St Edmunds, saw the construction of a large new shopping centre, The Arc resulting in significant diversion of shoppers from the traditional Ipswich catchment.
The prolonged UK recession and structural change in retailing has exposed the weakness of Ipswich as a retail destination. The narrow and extended layout of shopping streets aligned East West is an inefficient layout for shoppers with the two ends furthest from Prime pitch in a permanent state of semi blight and buildings, usually converted dwellings, unsuitable for modern retailers.
Retail centres preserve their attractiveness by the creation of a new shopping centre in each boom phase of the property cycle. In Ipswich this investment did not materialise in the last property boom, mainly because the town presented too many alternative locations thus competing developers were unable to convince major retailers to commit to any particular scheme for fear that they might ‘jump the wrong way’