After the success of London Docklands, where waterside apartments now command a considerable premium, several other dockland- regeneration schemes have taken off around the country. What these complexes have in common is that they give people a chance to live in city-style accommodation, beside the water. The latest of these developments is at Ipswich, where classy boats are now nestling alongside modern apartments instead of run- down industrial buildings, and smart little restaurants line the waterside in the place of disused factories and warehouses. The former Customs House is an excellent restaurant and the Isaac Lord warehouse has become a smart wine bar.
Ipswich, at the head of the River Orwell, has a long maritime history. The Wet Dock, which opened in 1842, was, at the time, the largest area of enclosed water in England. Once you have gone through this, it is possible to enjoy miles of safe sailing and glorious East Anglian countryside - all of which makes the area very attractive to people who are keen on messing about with boats.
The pounds 250m regeneration site stretches over 100 hectares and incorporates several quays, two marinas, the central island (which still has light industry on it, but will probably become one of the smarter places to live in years to come) and ongoing commercial areas such as the port, which is owned by Associated British Ports, and is still active and a centre for the shipping industry in the area.
The first residential development was undertaken a few years ago by Bellway and was an unqualified success. Since then, the company has almost sold out at its second development, Quay West, a little further back but still overlooking the water. Here, one two-bedroom apartment is for sale on the fifth floor for pounds 199,000. And now Redrow has launched Neptune Quay, beside Neptune Marina, just 10 minutes walk from the restaurants, bars and shops. Twenty units were sold in the first five days, mainly to local people; some are owner- occupiers and others have bought as an investment.
Andrew Wendell, who lives and works in Ipswich, has bought a two- bedroom flat at the development for investment purposes: "I like the way Ipswich is developing; it's becoming a trendy place to live and the property market is going from strength to strength. I'll let out the flat to begin with, but it is in such a fantastic position that I hope to live there myself in time. …