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Ipswich: Shocking new images reveal extent of drug use in derelict waterfront building

PUBLISHED: 13:43 13 February 2013 | UPDATED: 13:43 13 February 2013

The former Burtons building on Ipswich Waterfront

The former Burtons building on Ipswich Waterfront

Archant

IPSWICH’S Waterfront district has established itself as a cultural and social hub, attracting thousands to its restaurants, bars and leisure facilities every week.

But behind the plush apartments and enticing eateries is a much darker side – one which was never envisaged when the regeneration of the docks was first mooted.

The stalled building projects aside, Ipswich’s Waterfront district has established itself as a cultural and social hub, attracting thousands to its restaurants, bars and leisure facilities every week.

But behind the plush apartments and enticing eateries is a much darker side – one which was never envisaged when the regeneration of the docks was first mooted.

Located at the western tip of the quayside, the derelict Burtons building looks like something out of a war film.

And shock photographs taken inside the crumbling structure, obtained by The Ipswich Star this week, show how the former factory has been turned into a drug den.

The ground floor of the building – situated only yards from the Dance East centre, a regional hub visited by hundreds of youngsters every week – is littered with used hypodermic needles and associated drug paraphernalia.

Blackened spoons have been discarded, while graffiti adorns the walls. One message reads: “Welcome to hell.”

There is also evidence that people have been sleeping rough in the building, with mattresses on the floor and the remnants of fires also visible in the images.

The former factory and office block, located at the Stoke Bridge end of the Waterfront, is just 50 metres away from the historic Wolsey Gate – built 480 years ago and one of Ipswich’s most iconic landmarks.

When The Star visited yesterday, access points into the building through unsecured windows were easily found.

Community leaders today promised to raise concerns with the building’s owner. Borough leader David Ellesmere said the council would work with police on the matter.

He said: “We have contacted the owners instructing them to make the building safe and secure.

“If the owners don’t respond then we can take action ourselves to make the building secure.

“Our number one priority is safety and getting the building secure, which we will treat as a priority.”

Earlier this month, archaeologist Tim Browne, 53, raised concerns over the danger of glass falling from the building on to people below and suggested the introduction of an exclusion zone.

Meanwhile, Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said: “This is a timely reminder that we need to crack on with this area of the waterfront as soon as possible.

“The owner of the building has a responsibility to make sure the building is secured properly.”

Cllr Ellesmere added: “There are a complex series of negotiations to get development going on those sites but those things are moving very slowly.

“We would like to see development restarting but we are not kidding ourselves that it will be happening anytime soon.”

The Star reader who found the needles said he visited the building after reading Mr Gummer’s comments last week on the lack of progress at the Waterfront in recent months.

“The story shouldn’t have been about the state of the buildings but what the youngsters were or are getting up to once inside,” said the reader, who asked to remain anonymous.

“I found countless needless, blackened spoons and pro-heroin graffiti.”

The building used to be owned by Burton Son and Sanders, a confectionery-making business. The property was used as offices and also a factory before it was closed 20 years ago.

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