Marinas are not just for mariners

The success of London's Docklands has spawned similar regeneration schemes around the country. In Ipswich docks, for example, former industrial buildings are being turned into stylish waterside apartments
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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.

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 £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 £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."

The 113 apartments are smart and stylish with ceramic-tiled kitchens and bathrooms and bluey-grey glazed panelled walls behind the baths, which make a change from mosaic tiles or limestone. There are 96 car parking spaces, views over the Dock and - as the land was bought from the Alan Swann boatyard, which owns the marina - the chance to rent a mooring should any owner wish to do so. There will also be a wharfside restaurant on the ground floor. "Even the car parking is innovative," says Chris Roads, sales director for Redrow Eastern. "We have put in 'sliders', so that cars can be fitted into a much smaller space. If your car is behind another, you just press the electronic controller and the ones in front slide out of the way."

The one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, four of which will have roof terraces, cost from £134,950 up to around £800,000 for the penthouse, which is a three-bedroom duplex. A little further along the Dock, on the site of the old gas works, Persimmon Homes is building Orwell Quay, a development of 311 one- and two-bedroom apartments and 43 townhouses along the waterfront. The apartments will have aluminium double glazing and stainless-steel appliances and, within the development, there will be a marquee-style restaurant, secure parking and some retail units. Prices in the current phase range from £110,000 to £142,000. With the aim of becoming one of the East of England's trendiest hot spots, there is still much more transformation to come - which will be good for anyone buying as an investment - and future plans include a new hotel and several more large residential and commercial schemes. Another East Anglian waterside regeneration scheme is taking place on the Chelmer and Blackwater Canal at Chelmsford, Essex. Here, Telford Homes is building city-style one- and two-bedroom apartments and duplexes over retail units on the ground floor at its site called Little Docklands, in Wharf Road. The building has been designed to look like a modern interpretation of traditional dockside architecture and the apartments all have a south-facing balcony, contemporary kitchens by Urban Myth and stainless-steel appliances by Smeg, including a stainless-steel fridge. Prices here start at £159,950.

Redrow Homes, 01473 281654; Bellway Homes, 01473 289073; Persimmon Homes, 01473 286105; Telford Homes, 0870-872 0987

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