Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 15°C

min temp: 11°C

Search

The pigs are coming. Find out more about

Pigs Gone Wild

here.

Ipswich: When will the County Hall shame be put right?

09:00 21 November 2012

County Hall

County Hall

Archant

THREE months ago The Star published shocking photographs which revealed how thieves, vandals and rough-sleepers had wrecked County Hall.

But today, despite repeated calls for plans to be drawn up to protect the landmark, it remains in an appalling state.

Now The Star is demanding action is taken to save the former home of local government in Suffolk – before it’s too late.

The historic heart of County Hall – St Helen Court – remains insecure and recent attempts by the borough to contact the building’s owner have failed.

There is hope that another organisation will take on the restoration of one of the town’s best-known buildings – but the size of the project could be an obstacle and it is not clear what its future use could be.

Redundant council buildings

WHEN the county council sold all the buildings that made up the former county hall, there were clear plans for many of them.

Its buildings in Rope Walk, including St Edmund House, were sold to the East of England Development Agency. Most were demolished to make way for Suffolk New College – the future of St Edmund House which was built in 1984 remains unclear, but it is likely to eventually be sold off as offices by its current owners, the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Unattractive 1950s-build offices were demolished and new homes have been built – but that was not an option for the historic former heart of the council.

Its listing means that not only its external appearance but also its interior has to be retained – making any redevelopment problematic.

The Victorian Society has placed the landmark on its national “at risk” register. It is also listed by the borough as one of the town’s most at risk buildings.

County Hall hit the international headlines in the 1930s when Wallis Simpson was granted her divorce there to allow her to marry King Edward VIII, which sparked the abdication crisis.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer echoed The Star’s plea: “This is a very well-known building at the entrance to the town centre and all efforts must be put into trying to bring it back into use,” he said.

The Star has made repeated attempts to contact the building’s owners but the firm has never returned our calls to discuss County Hall’s future.

The business – Rainbow Developments Ltd, through its associated company County Hall (Ipswich) Management Ltd – has also proved difficult to contact for borough officials, who are keen to discuss ways in which to secure the site from trespassers.

Both companies are registered at an address in Park Lane, Puckeridge, Hertfordshire. Both have had the same director registered – David Hugh Harris.

Mr Harris is also a director of another company – M&D Developments – which is based at Hengrave Hall near Bury St Edmunds and is responsible for the management of the building that has been empty since the county council moved to Endeavour House in 2004.

County Hall (Ipswich) Management is listed in its most recent accounts, dated in February, as having no assets and no cash in the bank – it is described as a “dormant company” by online credit checking agencies.

The Star even visited the firms’ registered address in Hertfordshire, but was unable to track down the director. We have called M&D Developments three times over the last month. Each time we were told that a director was not available but that our message would be passed on and someone would call back. No return calls have been received.

Representatives from M&D Developments had been due to meet officials from the borough council to discuss the future of the building, which dates from 1837.

However conservation officer Gail Broom said attempts to contact the managers responsible for County Hall recently had proved fruitless.

She said: “Recently I have heard nothing from them.” Ms Broom said she was concerned about the effect of rain seeping into the building, possibly followed by sleet and snow as the winter sets in.

Related articles

4 comments

  • Demolish it! Turn the ground into a car park. The building has always been an ugly looking eyesore.

    Report this comment

    David White

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

  • Ive been in there to do some photography and its terrible. 100 odd years of history wrecked. Stained glass windows smashed, old woodwork in the main court rotting and broken from vandals. history doesnt mean anything these days unless it involves profit. Maybe the evening star could do a centre piece on it and il let them use some of my pictures.

    Report this comment

    Michael Brooks

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

  • Is there still such a thing as a compulsory purchase order?

    Report this comment

    Toilet Bloo

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

  • Short of physically moving it to the Waterfront, there is little hope of money being spent on it in this town.

    Report this comment

    england1770

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Walkers get ready for the start of the ladies midnight walk in aid of St Helena Hospice at Weston Homes Community Stadium, Colchester, Essex, United Kingdom on 28-May-2016.
Picture: Steve Waller 
www.stephenwaller.com

Hundreds of ladies illuminated the streets of Colchester this weekend — wearing their finest and brightest neon clothes and accessories for St Helena Hospice’s eighth annual Midnight Walk.

Enjoy a family day out at the Suffolk Show

Looking for ways to entertain the family during the school holidays? Here we bring you a round up of what is on in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and elsewhere in Suffolk, and into north Essex.

EACH Colour Dash at Christchurch Park

Tens of thousands of pounds have been raised for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) during Ipswich’s most well supported Colour Dash to date.

Priti Patel

Pro-Brexit Essex MP Priti Patel added to a new row in the EU Referendum campaign by accusing the leaders of the “Remain” side of being so wealthy and privileged that they did not understand the concerns of most voters.

Major Tim Pig preview shots. Image: Jane Anderson

The finer points of his space suit have been painted on, he has been shipped back to Ipswich and been glossed to protect him from the weather - and now Major Tim Pig is just waiting to land in the town centre.

City Palace Udaipur

With temperatures soaring into the 50’ – that is Celsius – in Rajasthan at present, you could be forgiven for thinking that it is a place to be avoided!

File picture of Norwich Road/Orford Street junction in Ipswich.

Detectives investigating a serious sexual assault committed in Ipswich last weekend have carried out anniversary checks in the area.

The bank holiday weather was perfect for events like the Trimley Beer Festival.

For once organisers of bank holiday weekend events are set to be happy with the British weather as the region prepares for a third dry day today.

The Stowmarket town sign.

One woman has been arrested on suspicion of assault and criminal damage following the incident last night.

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing

It would take a phenomenal effort to produce a bad Dirty Dancing show. The 1987 coming-of-age drama is ripe for any interpretation: iconic music, a timeless script, a clear story with emotional depth, relatable characters and well-defined goals, and of course, some pretty captivating dancing.

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24