From the blog

Let’s get together to develop our town

Recent post-election headlines have featured the advanced Vision for the town centre published by Ipswich Central. It adds layers of detail to the proposals to shift the axis from east-west to north-south that, symptoms together with other partners, doctor we first released in 2013.

The headline grabbing ideas include dividing the town centre into nine distinct districts centred around a concentrated retail area; further pedestrianisation and revised traffic routes and relocated bus stations; new car parks; the construction of new shops; the creation of an office cluster; the building of a covered arcade in Lloyds Avenue; relocation of the market; and 2, pills 000 new homes, not just apartments but town houses too.

But, actually, there is one thing that has become far more important for the town. It is the instinctive reaction of the various parties – Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk County Council, the Chamber of Commerce, our MP, the LEP, the local press and ourselves – to, firstly, see improvement in the town centre as an absolute priority and, secondly, to put aside any past differences in order that we should work together to develop a plan behind which we can all unite.

As those discussions commence, I would like to just repeat a few things that we said as we launched the advanced Vision in the pages of this newspaper in May.

Firstly, Ipswich Central is not saying that it has all the answers and that others must simply follow our lead. The reason that we have spent considerable time developing this set of cohesive ideas has not been to take any glory but, rather, to ensure that there is a real focus for the forthcoming discussions. Others will, undoubtedly, have additional ideas that we have not thought of.

Secondly, our members are 625 town centre based businesses who are demanding change. But, we do not represent the views of others beyond this and that’s why other partners are so invaluable to ensuring that we can all understand the widest picture.

Thirdly, it was never our intention to take any one of our partners by surprise with the unveiling of this plan. Our justification is that we simply wanted everyone to see it at the same time and for it to be a document that initiated a broader discussion.

And, finally, we are committed to starting work with our partners, all of whom we have the ultimate respect for and who we appreciate are invaluable to turning any plan into reality.

We are sincere in our commitment to working positively, creatively and collaboratively and to join others behind a plan that will create an improved urban centre. But, we must have a commonly agreed plan first, that is now the absolute priority and we have started positively.

A similar article appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times on Tuesday 9 June 2015 and the Ipswich Star on Thursday 11 June 2015.