From the blog
Ipswich – Have Your Say
17th January 2015
By Terry Baxter, clinic Chairman
We have been interested to see the Ipswich Star’s recent survey of the state of Ipswich across all aspects such as housing, and transport, education and health.
One area that the survey covers is the town centre and we are pleased to have an opportunity to add our own comments and suggestions. We represent businesses in the wider town centre and have over 600 members. The vibrancy of this area is vital to the town’s wider economic prosperity and important to the lives of all residents. If Ipswich is to continue to dominate Suffolk as its County Town and main economic driver, it is imperative that all organisations share and sign-up to the same objectives. From our perspective, in 2015, our wish list would be:-
- Significant public investment in key entry points to the town, particularly the station forecourt, the facing bridge over the river and Princes Street. This and others create vital first impressions of our town.
- A more proactive and dynamic approach to winning new businesses, particularly absent retail names. The town is simply not good enough at this and should be promoting itself far better to new investors.
- Public investment is required to revitalise the Cornhill as the focal point at the very heart of the town. This will serve as a commitment to the retail core and generate other investment around it.
- Investment in a major new car park on the site of the old Crown Car Park and directly linked to Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre (soon to be Sailmakers).
- Since 65% of customers first ‘browse’ town centres on-line but prefer to come in to pick up products and enjoy the experience within the place, further significant investment is required to link technology as part of the town centre experience. We will make this investment and it should be matched by with free Wi-Fi access for all visitors.
- Finish off ‘Travel Ipswich’. The disruption must be over, once and for all, ahead of Christmas 2015.
- We will take a leading role, and work in partnership with others, to grow the number of visitors coming to Ipswich from further afield as a town starts to act as a hub for a stay in Suffolk.
- Realisation that the historic shopping patterns of the town need to change, with new, residential development being incentivised in areas such as Museum Street, the former Civic Centre site and to the rear of the former Woolworths and Co-Op stores. More people living in the town centre will mean more businesses will relocate there.
- And, finally, agreement that linking the town centre with the Waterfront will be the single, most important USP for Ipswich and a strategy for ensuring that this happens needs to be proactively followed with real investment in and promotion of the main linkage areas such as Queens Street, the Saints and Blackfriars. The Waterfront must also be finished off.
We will continue to play our part in reviving and changing the town centre. We look forward to working with others throughout this year.